Thursday, October 23, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

More Perks for PA Pols

It's good to be a PA lawmaker. In addition to the built-in perks of office, there are many lining up to give you gifts.

More Perks for PA Pols

Pennsylvania´s capitol building in Harrisburg.
Pennsylvania's capitol building in Harrisburg.

The benefits of holding office in the Pennsylvania Legislature go beyond the built-in perks of public service.

In addition to a good salary, great health-care, a fat pension, tax-free per diems and more, there's the ever-present possibility of getting really nice gifts.

I'm talking world travel, Super Bowl tix and the always-popular pre-paid game-day visits to Happy Valley.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports a bunch of lawmakers took $117,000 worth of freebies in recent years.

The report is based on a review of filings with the state Ethics Commission from 2007 through 2011. You can read the full story here.

Highlights include:

-- GOP House Speaker Sam Smith, $3,181 from Greenlee Partners, a powerful Harrisburg lobbying firm, for various "hospitality and lodging."

-- House Democratic Caucus Chairman Dan Frankel, $6,830 to attend a National Taxpayers Conference in Poland and Ireland.

-- GOP Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Jake Corman, $8,335 in Steeler tickets and lodging, including for the 2009 Super Bowl in Tampa.

-- Democratic Rep. Tom Caltagirone, ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee, $1,292 from an importer of "fine wines from around the world."

-- GOP Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi, $2,147 for a legislative leaders conference in Ireland.

-- Democratic House Whip Mike Hanna, $2,023 for a Penn State agricultural conference and some Penn State football tickets.

-- GOP Senate Finance Committee Chairman Michael Brubaker, $17,854 for trips to Taiwan, Turkey and Nova Scotia.

-- House GOP Caucus Secretary and Montco Rep. Mike Vereb, $10,017, mostly in corporate checks from the likes of Comcast and PECO for an annual "family fun festival" for his constituents.

The good news for lawmakers is it doesn't matter what party you're in or whether your party is in the majority or not. The bad news for constituents is you aren't getting any gifts no matter what party you support, belong to or vote for. Have a nice day.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
About this blog
John Baer has been covering politics and government for the Daily News since 1987. The National Journal in 2002 called Baer one of the country's top 10 political journalists outside Washington, saying Baer has, "the ability to take the skin off a politician without making it hurt too much." E-mail John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John is the author of the book "On The Front Lines of Pennsylvania Politics: Twenty-Five Years of Keystone Reporting" (The History Press, 2012). Reach John at baerj@phillynews.com.

John Baer Daily News Political Columnist
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