PA Ranks Low on Ethics Disclosure, Ask Bob Mellow

The Pennsylvania legislature got a “F” from the Center for Public Integrity in a national report on lawmakers disclosing information about assets, holdings or connections to special interests. In this study which looks at accountability, performance, professionalism, efficiency, cost-saving and disclosure of information by the legislature, the PA legislature dropped two slots to 35th among states. So what do other states do that PA does not:

  • State lawmakers here are not required to describe any outside employment nor the range nor value of income from it.
  • Our lawmakers are not required to disclose a spouse’s employment or even a spouse’s name. Other states, 28 of them, see such a requirement as a good way to avoid conflicts of interest or appearances of conflict.
  • Our lawmakers are not required to describe entities for which they serve as officers, board members or directors – same for spouses. The only requirement is listing “any office you hold” in a business entity.
  • Our lawmakers are not required to provide information on real property they or a spouse own, nor its value, unless such property “was involved in transactions” with the state or other governmental bodies.
  • They are not required to report financial interest in any business unless they own more than 5 percent of its equity or assets, nor describe any for-profit business in which they hold interest above that threshold.

The need for more disclosure is imperative as top Democrat senator Robert Mellow is embroiled in of misuse of taxpayer dollars. Senator Mellow spent more than $200,000 in tax dollars to rent office space he owned. Mellow has continued to maintain that he has been compliant with the state ethics codes.