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Lawyer wants LCB decision banning column overturned

| Tuesday, June 25, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

HARRISBURG — An attorney with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is asking Gov. Tom Corbett to overturn the board's ruling that he cannot write a liquor law column for The Legal Intelligencer.

Alan Kennedy-Shaffer, 28, filed an appeal on Friday with Corbett's Office of Administration saying the LCB denying him permission to pen a quarterly column for the Philadelphia-based law journal violates his free-speech rights.

“Our First Amendment rights, especially freedom of speech, cannot be abridged by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board or any other government agency simply because the PLCB may disagree with our personal views or is fearful that we may say something they don't like,” his appeal states.

The LCB declined to comment, calling it a personnel matter.

Kennedy-Shaffer, a Harrisburg resident who has worked as an LCB assistant counsel for nearly two years, won an appeal against the LCB last year that allowed him to continue working with Harrisburg Hope, a grassroots community group he founded.

Kennedy-Shaffer said he responded to an open call from The Legal Intelligencer for lawyers to pitch a column that focused on their area of legal expertise. He would not be paid to write the columns.

But the LCB said in its June 19 denial that the column would conflict with Kennedy-Shaffer's job responsibilities and could breach attorney-client privilege.

Furthermore, the LCB said, “Any column authored by you regarding liquor law matters could be confused as an advisory opinion issued by the board.”

The letter states Kennedy-Shaffer must submit a sworn affidavit that he has stopped writing the column or he must resign from the agency.

“The options given in the denial letter are shocking,” Kennedy-Shaffer said. No column has been published, but he said his first will give a brief history of the LCB from Prohibition to the present.

Dan Egan, a spokesman for the governor's Office of Administration, said the office is reviewing the appeal.

Kennedy-Shaffer said he notified the LCB as a courtesy. He said he's not required to get permission for the work because he won't be compensated and is not employed by The Legal Intelligencer.

“This really shouldn't be a big deal. Most employers would be proud of one of their attorneys writing for The Legal Intelligencer on a voluntary basis,” he said.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com.

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