Share This Page

Contract arranged Pennsylvania Game Commission director's early exit

| Monday, March 10, 2014, 10:57 p.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Pennsylvaina Game Commission Executive Director Carl Roe listens to remarks from state Rep. Jeff Plye during a hearing Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013

HARRISBURG — An agreement between the Pennsylvania Game Commission and its former executive director hastened the director's departure from the wildlife agency by as many as 14 months, according to a document that the eight commission members signed.

The document proposed a $220,000 payment to former director Carl Roe of Carlisle.

The agency called it a “settlement agreement” to avoid litigation, but Gov. Tom Corbett's lawyers said it is an “improper severance agreement.” The June document, obtained by the Tribune-Review, is titled “Agreement and Release.”

Roe could not be reached.

“Although Roe's original plan was to serve until April 2015, in consideration of current circumstances, Roe agrees to retire from the Pennsylvania Game Commission no later than Jan. 31, 2014,” the document reads.

Roe retired on Jan. 17. The document does not detail the “circumstances.”

It doesn't matter what it's called, said Mark Schwartz, a Bryn Mawr lawyer, when asked for his opinion of the document.

“The key words are mutual agreement. It's an agreement. Clearly, they (commissioners) want him out. He's willing to go out for a price,” said Schwartz, former aide to the late House Speaker K. Leroy Irvis, D-Oakland.

“The language is simply window dressing. People don't pay money — let alone double six figures — for no reason.”

Schwartz wondered “why should there be confidentiality? It's public money. Is this a police state?”

Some lawmakers reacted angrily to the Trib's first report of the payout on Friday.

“Outraged at PA Game Commission's attempt to divert funds from sportsmen for secret payment to failed Exec. Director,” Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson County, tweeted on Monday.

“Everybody was saying, ‘What the heck? How did this happen?' ” said Stephen Miskin, House Republican spokesman. “It's emblematic of how the commission has operated the past few years.”

One lawmaker who said the proposed payout “made my blood boil” is filing legislation to cut hunting license fees.

Rep. Brad Roae's message to the commission: Don't ask for a license fee increase, though the last one was 15 years ago. An adult hunting license costs $20.70.

“All the money from the first 10,638 adult hunting licenses sold this season will be needed to pay the $220,000 severance payment,” said Roae, a Republican who lives near Meadville. The bill for which he's gathering co-sponsors would cut license fees by $1.

The Attorney General's Office approved the payment to Roe last year, but the state comptroller “flagged” it, Corbett's office said. The attorney general asked for clarification from the commission.

Brad Bechtel, the Game Commission's chief counsel, said he was not authorized to discuss the document.

“This is just further evidence the commission and its leadership have total disregard for the public trust and the sportsmen they serve,” said Jay Pagni, Corbett's press secretary.

The Game Commission on Friday released a Dec. 26 letter Bechtel sent to the Corbett administration that said the payment to Roe would be a “settlement agreement in lieu of litigation” because Roe threatened legal action. The letter called for communications between the board and Roe to remain “confidential.”

Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or bbumsted@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.