Author: The PLS Reporter/Wednesday, April 2, 2014/Categories: News and Views


By Jason Gottesman

Led by Democratic Gubernatorial hopeful Katie McGinty, a group of Democrats held a news conference Wednesday to call for a total ban on gifts to legislators.

“I’m here to call for an absolute, total, no asterisk, no footnote, gift ban,” McGinty stated.

She argued the current lack of government trust among the public requires current loopholes to be closed.

“What we are proposing here is not a radical new thought,” McGinty claimed. “Pennsylvania should join the 40 other states that essentially have an absolute gift ban.”

She noted any plan should leave no question as to what’s right or what’s wrong and give the public confidence again that state government is working for them.

She said any plan should include exemptions for gifts by friends and family and be aimed toward prohibiting gifts from those who have business before the state.

“People still have their personal lives. I’m not speaking here about their personal lives,” she said.

Sen. Mike Stack (D-Philadelphia) agreed with McGinty about the need for a total gift ban. He said that in the past he has proposed a $50 gift limit, but he feels having a complete gift ban sends “a very clear statement.”

Representatives Tony DeLuca (D-Allegheny), Patty Kim (D-Dauphin), and Tim Mahoney (D-Fayette) stood in support of the gift ban proposal.

According to a tweet from Senate Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware), the Senate could take up cash gift prohibition proposals from Sen. Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne) and Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) as soon as next week.

The proposals, which are to be formally introduced later this week, include both statutory and Senate rule changes.

However, don’t expect anything to happen soon in the House with regard to moving legislation regarding cash gift reform.

“We’re not going to rush into anything,” said Steve Miskin, spokesperson for the House Majority Leader. “The Ethics Committee is doing its thing. Once all the facts are out, then we’ll take deliberative time to see what laws need to be strengthened, what laws need to be tweaked, and what bills need to be introduced.”

“Rushing into things just to get out there is not the right approach because there are going to be more things coming out probably,” he said.

Prior to the news conference, the House Bipartisan Management Committee took formal action to create a rule for House members banning the acceptance of any cash gift unless from certain family members or friends. Under the released action, the term “friend” shall not include a registered lobbyist.

“We don’t think under any circumstances is it appropriate to take a cash gift,” Miskin said of the action taken.