Corbett reports travel and gifts accepted

Gov. Corbett reported golf passes and travel to Brazil.
Gov. Corbett reported golf passes and travel to Brazil.
Posted: May 02, 2014

HARRISBURG A trip to South America. A golf pass to the U.S. Open in Merion. Dinners, concerts, and tickets to sporting events.

Those were among the $23,410 worth of travel and gifts Gov. Corbett accepted last year, according to newly filed state records.

The governor listed the items on his annual statements of financial interest for 2013, which public officials, including top members of his administration and legislators, must file by Thursday.

The latest round of financial disclosures comes as the legislature considers whether to ban gifts, travel, and other largesse in the wake of revelations that five Philadelphia Democrats, including four state legislators, received money or gifts during a long-running sting investigation by the state Attorney General's Office. None reported them on financial disclosure statements.

Public officials can accept gifts, meals, lodging, and other hospitality, including tickets to sporting events, as long as they disclose them.

Corbett listed his gifts and travel on two forms - one filed with the state Ethics Commission and a more detailed one required under the Governor's Code of Conduct.

The governor reported receiving $360 in gifts from the Merion Golf Club last December, including a $175 framed U.S. Open flag and a $150 framed poster - although Corbett noted that those gifts were accepted "on behalf of the Commonwealth" and not for his own personal use.

The governor also reported $21,990.33 in transportation, lodging, and hospitality. That included $921.93 for meals, paid for by the Republican Governors Association (RGA), at the association's February 2013 meeting in Washington, and $3,284.02 for airfare, hotel, and meals during the RGA's quarterly meeting in Aspen last July.

The governor also reported accepting a 10-day trade mission trip last spring to Brazil valued at $13,568. The cost was covered by Team Pennsylvania, a nonprofit group that promotes public-private partnerships in Pennsylvania.

The USGA, Corbett reported, paid for a $450 golf pass for him during last year's U.S. Open championship at the Merion Golf Club. Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley also paid nothing to attend the coveted event - he received two "all-access" passes valued at $900.

Corbett also reported: $850 in tickets to sporting events, including a Pittsburgh Steelers game and a Pittsburgh Pirates game; dinner and a concert worth $376 from the Academy of Music in Philadelphia; a $150 pair of New Balance sneakers, compliments of the RGA; and a dagger and books (the value of the dagger is unknown), paid for by the Saudi Commission on Tourism and Antiquities. Corbett said the items were given to the State Museum of Pennsylvania.

Legislators also reported trips and other gifts - although not all had filed as of early Wednesday evening.

Rep. Dwight Evans (D., Phila.), for instance, reported accepting six tickets, worth $750, to a Beyoncé concert last July at the Wells Fargo Center. The tickets were paid for by Fred A. Shabel, the vice-chairman of Comcast-Spectacor.

Reached Thursday, Evans said that in his 34 years in the legislature, he has always reported any gifts or travel that is required under law. He also said he supports a gift ban.

"I don't have a problem supporting that. ... I would be a yes," said Evans.

Sen. Jake Corman (R., Centre) reported a $6,555 trip to London paid for by the European Life Settlement Association. According to its website, the association represents "European funding sources, service providers, and intermediaries in the life settlement market."

Corman said it was a one-day trip - he arrived on a Monday and left the next day - to speak at the association's conference.

Some Philadelphia-area legislators reported no gifts or travel. They include: Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R., Delaware), Rep. Bill Adolph (R., Delaware), Sen. Chuck McIlhinney (R., Bucks), Rep. Kate Harper (R., Montgomery), Rep. Margo Davidson (D., Delaware), Rep. Michael H. O'Brien (D., Phila.) and Rep. Rosita Youngblood (D., Phila.).


acouloumbis@phillynews.com

717-787-5934

@AngelasInk

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