Corbetts accepted $11K in gifts; Dems complain to ethics commission
By The Associated Press
Published: Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 7:15 p.m.
Updated: Wednesday, March 6, 2013
PHILADELPHIA — Gov. Tom Corbett and his wife, Susan, accepted gifts including seats at professional sporting events, tickets to a gala for the Philadelphia Orchestra and private jet travel over a two-year period, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.
The Corbetts disclosed gifts worth more than $11,000 from lobbyists and business executives with interests in state policy in 2010, while Corbett was campaigning for governor, and in 2011, his first year in office, the Philadelphia Daily News reported.
The state Democratic Party filed a complaint with the State Ethics Commission, demanding an investigation.
State law allows elected officials to accept gifts, though they must list any gifts with an aggregate value of $250 or more and transportation, lodging or hospitality with an aggregate value of $650 or more on their annual statements of financial interest filed with the State Ethics Commission.
Among the gifts Corbett listed:
• Tickets worth $472 to hockey's Winter Classic, featuring the Pittsburgh Penguins at Pittsburgh's Heinz Field, and a related brunch on New Year's Day 2011, provided by a lobbyist for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Later that year, as governor, Corbett helped broker a deal that resolved a high-profile dispute over a regional health care contract between UPMC and Highmark Inc.
• The chief executive of Empire Education Group, a Pottsville-based beauty-school chain, flew Corbett on a private jet to an event in Pittsburgh — a trip whose value Corbett estimated at $1,407, the price of a first-class plane ticket. Ten months later, Corbett signed a bill that makes it easier for cosmetology students who attend schools like those that Empire operates to obtain a state license.
Corbett spokeswoman Kelli Roberts said the Republican has complied with all state disclosure requirements.
Critics said that, while Corbett appears to be following the law, the gifts reflect cozy ties with special interests.
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Gov. Corbett ran on a platform of reform - no more business as usual, openness, ethics, morals, standards, rules and integrity. As his tenure has unfolded Corbett has demonstrated that he is none of these things. He does not care about those of us who elected him but his door is wide open to business interests that will contributes thousands to his campaign(s) or give him freebies. Those of us who voted for him may have made a miscalculation. Strike 1: Corbett's election campaign accepted $100,000 from the executives of 2nd mile at the same time Corbett as AG was investigating 2nd miles role in Sandusky kiddy sex recruitment. Strike 2: Corbett approves $3,000,000 grant to 2nd Mile after being elected despite his finding that 2nd mile was implicated in Sandusky's kiddy sex assualt. strike 3: Corbett election campaign accepts $1,000,000 from gas drillers and then Corbett appoints these same contributors to the gas drilling oversight committee strike 4: Corbett accepts a free trip to RI ($4,000) from the exec (Moran) of a gas drilling company that is under investigation by a Corbett investigator from Corbett's DEP. Corbett's own investigator finds that this contributor has violated Corbett's DEP rules as loose as they are. strike 5: Despite all the hoopla for creating the appearance of a conflict/ethical violation Corbett continues to accept freebies from campaign contributors. ..... .. Corbett is incredibly naive, stupid, corrupt or arrogant. All of which may disqualify him from serving as governor. And I voted for him. .... After 3 strikes you should be out. After 5? CORBETT NEEDS TO RESIGN AND LET A REAL REPUBLICAN RUN THIS STATE ... or the republican legislature needs to begin impeachment proceedings. Corbett needs to understand that we the voters want what he promised in his campaign: transparency, honesty, integrity and commitment to the voters not to corporate contributors.