Thursday, May 5, 2011

Wanna Buy a Statehouse?

In an Associated Press article at we learn that many that the going rate is approximately $150,000 and counting.  Here's an excerpt from the story:

"Pennsylvania state lawmakers [took and reported} more than $150,000 in gifts and free food, lodging and transportation last year, according to the latest set of mandatory reports filed with the State Ethics Commission.

[Le]gislators traveled to at least six states and to China, India, Ireland and Switzerland.  For free, they watched NHL games, two were members of the Erie Yacht Club and one took $2,750 worth of ski lift passes.   The state Ethics Act requires public officials to disclose annually any gifts worth at least $250 as well as transportation, lodging or hospitality worth $650 over the course of the year. The reports were due earlier this week.

Rep. Mike Vereb said Tuesday he didn’t realize until much later the cost of a luncheon he and his wife attended during a Pennsylvania Society event in New York.

'I’m not a New York type of guy, and I had no friggin’ clue [ed. nice mild oath] as to the amount,' said Vereb, R-Montgomery. He disclosed the $1,017 cost, a gift of Alpha Natural Resources, a coal company. Alpha’s largesse turned up on at least four other financial statements.

For the Legislature, the total figures are higher than in previous years, in part because an ethics opinion the commission issued several months ago requires disclosure when members get deep discounts on hotel rooms that are not widely available.

Sen. Stewart Greenleaf, R-Montgomery, listed $12,136 worth of construction services [um, remember Ted Stevens] from a retired builder who is helping him construct a new home after his was destroyed in a fire. 'He refused to take any money,' Greenleaf [explained, ed. sure, good one.]

Three senators and a state representative went to Israel, a trip partially underwritten by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. Sen. Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, said she paid all of her cost, while Sen. Daylin Leach, D-Montgomery, said he planned to file an amended report to disclose the trip.

'It was an educational trip,' said Rep. Curt Schroder, R-Chester. 'We meet with members of the Israeli government, press, toured the different hot spot areas, like over near Gaza.'

Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, reported $670 from the Philadelphia Eagles for transportation, hotel accommodations, dinner and tickets to see the team take on the Dallas Cowboys in Texas [ed. another educational trip.]   Evans also received two free $1,000 tickets from the Philadelphia Orchestra for a 'white-tie celebration,' two $1,500 tickets for the Philadelphia National Museum of American Jewish History’s opening gala, and $915 from the Pew Center for the States to attend a 'fiscal leader seminar' in Phoenix. 'The Eagles are a major employer in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania — a lot of jobs, right, all kinds of jobs, a lot of revenue. The orchestra — major attraction in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,' said Evans, who said he takes a particular interest in state financial issues as a former Appropriations Committee chairman.

Sen. John Pippy, R-Allegheny, spent more than a week in China and India last summer. The cost of more than $19,000 was picked up by the Aspen Institute Rodel Fellowships in Public Leadership of Washington, D.C.   The Legislative Leadership Institute Academy of Foreign Affairs in Green Bay, Wis., spent $12,293 to send Pippy for 10 days to Ireland and Switzerland in December. [ . . . ]
The reports also reveal details about lawmakers’ outside income. At least 30 of them have business relationships with law practices, six with insurance concerns and at least three with the military. More than 20 reported rental or real estate income, while others disclosed proceeds from or ties to accountancy or engineering practices, farming, retail stores, lumber sales, universities, auto repair, auctioneering and a funeral home."
This article brilliantly illustrates why constituents are pre-disposed hate law makers.  The weaseling is just so ... what you might expect.

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