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Allegheny

Allegheny County councilwomen could push for ethics reforms, controller says

Theresa Clift
| Monday, March 12, 2018, 4:54 p.m.
The Allegheny County Courthouse
Keith Hodan | Trib Total Media
The Allegheny County Courthouse

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is pushing for changes to county ethics rules in light of statewide reforms Gov. Tom Wolf announced Monday at the Allegheny County Courthouse, and at least one county councilwoman is supporting the effort.

The changes Wagner is suggesting include:

• Banning gifts to county officials, including event tickets from the Sports & Exhibition Authority, which owns Pittsburgh's three professional sports venues;

• Enacting campaign contribution limits in line with those that exist in the City of Pittsburgh;

• Requiring disclosure of campaign contributions by firms seeking county contracts;

• Requiring county officials to disclose income from sources outside county government, and making such disclosures are publicly available. Currently, elected officials and some county employees under state law must submit that information annually via statements of financial interest forms, but the forms are not posted online.

Wagner has discussed the effort with county Councilwomen Anita Prizio, D-O'Hara, and Denise Renalli-Russell, D-Brighton Heights, according to a news release from her office.

Prizio is interested in the ideas, and plans to introduce legislation at some point, said Darwin Leuba, Prizio's spokesman.

It will not likely be at the next council meeting March 20, he said.

“Transparency has always been at the forefront of Anita's agenda,” Leuba said in a statement. “We're currently discussing the best way to implement these transparency measures, and we hope to have a draft of legislation before the full council as soon as possible.”

Renalli-Russell did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

“These are long overdue protections for the integrity of our government and our tax dollars, and they are no less necessary to ensuring ethical government at the county level. I am hopeful that County Executive (Rich) Fitzgerald, who stood at the governor's side as he announced his plan, will agree that we must get our own house in order, as well,” Wagner said in a news release.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, tclift@tribweb.com or via Twitter @tclift.

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