Thursday, April 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Corbett fires a Blank (Rome)

Corbett fires a Blank (Rome)

The corruption shoes keep dropping here in Pennsylvania -- how many feet do we have, anyway? You'll be shocked, shocked to know that there was massive corruption at the then-Democrat controlled Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, something to ponder when you drive out west like I did last summer and realize that unless YOU commit a felony you won't be able to meet their extortionist toll demands. Then we have the unfortunate case of Fortunato Perri.

And there's more from the good people at StateImpactPA, which has been playing tag-team with me on reporting gifts and possible conflicts of interest involving Gov. Corbett., especially relating to the oil-and-gas industry. Specifically, they drilled deeper on one benefactor, the Philly-based powerhouse law firm Blank Rome, which is involved with the pro-industry Marcellus Shale Coalition and represents fracking clients. They noted that if you go back further into Corbett's tenure as attorney general he and his wife reported more than $15,000 in gifts from Blank Rome, mostly yearly tickets to a swank gala at the Academy of Musc.

I found this element of the story intriguing, though:

After Corbett was elected Governor, he appointed a former partner from Blank Rome, Michael Krancer, to head the state Department of Environmental Protection. Krancer worked at the firm prior to 1999, when he was named as a judge on the state’s Environmental Hearing Board by Governor Tom Ridge.

Or maybe that's just the incestuous kind of thing that goes on every day. This is Pennsylvania. I did like this letter to the edtor about Corbett's ethics:

The editorial regarding the gifts Governor Corbett has received has me seeing red. Prior to my retirement from the state, I supervised a group of employees involved in processing employer requests for tax credits. Most of the employers were represented by consultants who were responsible for submitting the tax credit requests and we received many thousands of requests per year.

The Christmas just before my retirement, a consultant company sent a box of candy to the tax credit unit in recognition of the work that was done that year. Management instructed us that the candy would have to be returned because of the rules prohibiting gifts to state employees.

These were frontline staff who had no decision making capabilities that would affect the employer. And yet Governor Corbett, who makes decisions affecting employers on a daily basis, has accepted more than $11,000 in gifts over two years. What's wrong with this picture?

So, despite what all of us are always saying, NOT everybody does it.

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Will Bunch
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