Why Won’t Harrisburg Ban All Gifts to Legislators?

Officials say it's not that simple.

The Patriot-News reports that reformers Eric Epstein and Gene Stilp are calling on a total ban on all gifts to state officials, but that they’re meeting resistance.

Press secretary Jay Pagni said Tuesday that the governor supports a ban on cash gifts, requires staff to disclose anything received in excess of $50, and has banned gifts to all administration officials involved in a procurement process.

But Pagni said the governor may have reservations about a ban that would preclude trips like last year’s trade mission to South America, which Corbett sees as an investment in the state’s future.

Corbett reported accepting, according to State Ethics Commission filings, about $13,500 in gifts and hospitality during the 12-day trip, funded by the Team Pennsylvania Foundation and, technically, a gift.

Just last month, Team Pennsylvania noted, the Brazilian firm Torcomp broke ground on its first U.S. manufacturing facility in Franklin County, with the promise of more than 70 permanent jobs.

Ten states have total bans on gifts for officials; another 31 have monetary caps. Pennsylvania has no law limiting gifts to officials.