PA Republican Governor Bought and Paid for By Lobbyists and Business Execs

Pennsylvania’s Republican Governor Tom Corbett has been an ally to Big Business and the rich — subsidizing private schools, cutting taxes on the rich, and opening up more land for gas drilling.

An investigation published this morning by the Philadelphia Daily News finds one reason why - since he ran in 2010, lobbyists and corporations have given over $11,000 in gifts and perks to Corbett and his wife. Here are a few of them:

  • $2,500 tickets to the  Philadelphia Academy of Music anniversary concert: These tickets came courtesy of the Blank Rome law firm, which represents gas drillers among others.
  • Expensive flights on private jets: Frank Schoeneman, chief executive of the Pottsville-based Empire Education Group, flew Corbett on a private jet to an event in Pittsburgh, for a cost of $1,407.
  • Buying the first lady a pricey gown: The chief executive of Aegis Security Insurance donated $1,800 for the cost of Mrs. Corbett’s inaugural gown and coat.

Pennsylvania law technically bars donors from giving anything to a public official that would guarantee a quid-pro-quo — meaning that if Corbett were to explicitly guarantee anything in return for these gifts, he’d be breaking the law. But it does not ban gift-giving.

Christopher Borick, a political-science professor at Muhlenberg College, said that although public disclosure of gifts to the governor may indeed meet the letter of the law, "that does not take him off the hook for public opinion - or moral obligation." He added that Corbett's high-profile palling around with business interests is "just unseemly."

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