Late last year, Gov. Corbett and his wife Susan bought a vacation condo on the beach in South Carolina. The reason we know this is because of some outstanding journalism from the StateImpact PA project -- the same folks who broke the story last year that the Corbetts had vacationed on the dime of an executive with a growing stake in the natural gas boom.
Now, they've checked the online property records for Pennsylvania's First Couple and discovered that they'd purchased the condo in Hilton Head for $265,000 and signed the deed and the mortgage papers back in early December. The reporters weren't supposed to work this hard -- Corbett is required by law to list such a purchase in his annual financial disclosure form, but he didn't. When they contacted the Corbett press shop, they got a couple of explanations, including that there was some confusion over whether the governor needed to report "a vacation home."
Seriously? In an unrelated matter, Corbett's press secretary jumped ship for the private sector this week.
(Worth noting, StateImpact PA also reported that Corbett's former environmental protection secretary, Michael Krancer, while he was still in office bought a $1 million vacation home (yes, there are vacation homes that cost $1 million...who knew?) in Vermont. Krancer, who "regulated" the fracking industry for Corbett, went back to work for a Philadelphia law firm that represents fracking clients. Like I said...worth noting.)
A few things need to be said here:
1) There's nothing particularly untoward about Corbett buying a mortgaged vacation condo -- he is, believe it or not, the highest-salaried governor in America, and he probably socked away some cash during his little-discussed stint as an executive for Waste Management, Inc. But you would think, as a politician, he might see the value of vacationing here in the Keystone State (I hear Dimock is lovely this time of year) instead of the Palmetto State. But as a politician Corbett is not particularly savvy, which may explain the nickname "One-Term Tom."
2) For a career prosecutor who won the governorship by going after elected officials who didn't follow the letter of the law in running campaigns with state workers, Corbett seems to have a hard time following the letter of the law when it comes to his own personal ethics. As I reported earlier this year, Corbett appeared to violate the Code of Conduct for the executive branch in accepting thousands of dollars in gifts from lobbyists and executives with business before the state. Corbett didn't report the Rhode Island trip on time (hoping, perhaps, that reporters wouldn't find the amended form six months later?), and now he didn't report the South Carolina purchase at all. Does he think that ethics rules only apply to the little people?
3) South Carolina seems like a fitting choice. In 2010, Corbett campaigned as a classic Pennsylvania moderate, but since his inauguration there's been precious little daylight between our governor and his Tea Party-beholden counterparts in states like Texas, Florida...and the Carolinas. You name it: A backwards voter ID law that falls hardest on minorities and the elderly, his own "Governor Ultrasound" bid, funneling your tax dollars to private and religious schools while trashing education in cities like Philadelphia, and handing the commonwealth to oil-and-gas interests on a silver platter.
So I don't know whether Corbett will feel at home in ultra-conservative South Carolina, the state that gave us Strom Thurmond and the Dixiecrats, Joe "You Lie" Wilson and Mark "Appalachian Trail" Sanford -- but his policies sure would. And the way things are going, in about 17 months he'll have all the time in the world to look for seashells on the dunes of Hilton Head.