Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced that officials in 18 of the state’s 67 counties reported accepting gifts, meals or trips from firms competing to sell or lease new voting machines.
The survey covered the past five years. DePasquale said most of the gift and travel recipients were county elections officials, and a few were county commissioners.
Many of the items in the audit are the result of vendor conferences where the lunch or dinner was included; which doesn’t seem like an ethics violation. However, officials receiving gifts does seem problematic.
The gifts included expense-paid travel to destinations including Las Vegas, tickets to a wine festival and private distillery tour, dinners at high-end restaurants, tickets to an amusement park and an open bar at a conference for elections officials, DePasquale said. A promotional folding chair, doughnuts and candy, were among other gifts.
I’m not a fan of Governor Wolf but he has imposed a gift ban on the executive branch under his jurisdiction. While it is good that Wolf took that approach, why isn’t there a clear law against such activities. To make matters worse, apparently there are some counties in the state that don’t have outright gift bans in place.
DePasquale said Pennsylvania needs a tougher law barring all state, county and local government employees from accepting gifts. He noted that Wolf has implemented a strict rule barring employees under the governor’s jurisdiction from accepting any gifts; he said it should be emulated statewide.