Inquirer Editorial: Money isn't everything

Posted: April 23, 2014

Harrisburg seems determined to respond to reports of endemic venality by doing as the district attorney advised in Chinatown: "as little as possible." Newly disclosed findings of an abandoned investigation underscore the inadequacy of its approach.

Following The Inquirer's reports that an informant posing as a lobbyist gave money to at least four state representatives, lawmakers changed their rules to ban cash gifts and began moving legislation to the same effect. But the state's permissive laws on all sorts of noncash favors are an important part of the problem.

The Inquirer reported Monday that Vanessa Lowery Brown, one of the implicated representatives, was also recorded discussing the largesse of a drug industry-backed organization that had paid for her to attend a three-day conference in Naples, Fla., while staying at a Waldorf Astoria. Such gifts of travel and hospitality remain unlimited, subject only to loose and lightly enforced disclosure requirements, and unacceptably excluded from Harrisburg's response so far.

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