Shortly before the April primary election, the Department of State received 1,700 campaign finance reports. While some were filed electronically, the remaining 1,300 reports, submitted on paper, were sent to a company for data entry. A portion were not posted online until after the election.
That would change under a proposal, supported in concept by Gov. Tom Corbett and leaders in both chambers, to require electronic filing for campaign finance reports to the Department of State.
Read the rest of the story at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
State Integrity news from Pennsylvania from SII partner WHYY:
The Pennsylvania Legislature is acting to give citizens a better look at who funds political campaigns in the state.
A measure requiring electronic filing of campaign finance reports appears headed for passage in the State House, at least in part because Gov. Tom Corbett wanted more information about his opponent's backers in the 2010 governor's race.
Read and hear more from WHYY - Philadelphia.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Jane Orie has been sentenced to serve between 2 and a half to 10 years in prison. The Republican from McCandless was convicted in March of using her legislative staff to do campaign work, and for forging documents to cover up the criminal activity.
The judge will decide within the next 30 days what monetary penalty Orie must pay. That number could go as high as $2 million in legal fees and restitution to the state.
Read the rest of the story at Essential Public Radio.
Early last month, lawmakers in Iowa completed work on a new open records statute. Senate File 430 creates the Iowa Public Information Board, a nine-member commission charged with enforcing the state’s open records and meetings laws.
For good government advocates in the Hawkeye State, the new legislation was cause for celebration — sort of.
Indeed, there were smiles all around as Gov. Terry Branstad signed the law on May 3 in the ornate Capitol Building, surrounded by lawmakers and journalists — many of whom spent six years on the effort. And the law is undoubtedly a victory of sorts for open government in the state, where enforcement was spotty at best, divided among several local and state entities. If a citizen’s request for information was denied, the only option was to sue — a time-consuming and costly course of action. Now, the Board can investigate complaints and bring them to court on citizens’ behalf.
It all sounds good — except for the fine print.
Campaign finance reports in Pennsylvania finally could be entering the digital age. Candidates for all statewide offices and the General Assembly may have to submit their campaign finance reports electronically, a move that advocates say would reduce the time between filing deadlines and when the public can access the information.
It also would save money.
Rea the rest of the story at the Pennsylvania Independent.
Facing sentencing on 14 criminal counts, Republican state Sen. Jane Orie resigned Monday from the seat she has held for more than a decade. Her departure sets up a soon-to-be-scheduled special election in the North Hills district, which is proposed to be relocated across the state in 2014.
Ms. Orie, 50, of McCandless, was found guilty in March of misusing her legislative staff to do campaign work. She has been suspended from practicing law and stands to lose her pension.
Read the rest of the story at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette.
Gov. Tom Corbett accepted tickets to NFL playoff games and the National Hockey League's Winter Classic and top leaders in the General Assembly earned outside incomes at law firms in 2011, documents show.
On his disclosure forms, Corbett also listed travel to a November meeting of Penn State's Board of Directors ($812); the February 2011 meeting of the Republican Governors Association ($994) in Washington, D.C.; and air travel ($1,405) to Pittsburgh in December 2011.
Read the rest of the story at the Morning Call.
It is unlikely the state Superior Court will require Luzerne County Judge Lesa Gelb to recuse herself from cases featuring testimony from police officers who have been sued by her husband. But she ought to do so anyway.
Every day across Pennsylvania, judges hear cases argued by attorneys who have given them campaign contributions. Even if challenged by a litigant about the influence such contributions might have, there is no requirement for a judge to step down if the judge feels he or she can remain impartial.
Read the rest of the story at the Citizens' Voice.
By primary Election Day, the state still had not put online some mid-March campaign finance reports, let alone the reports due April 13. Even for the biggest state races such as auditor general and state treasurer, there were still some candidate fundraising reports missing by Election Day.
There is a simple way to make this budget item go away and give the public better access to this information: Require all candidates to file their reports online.
Read the rest of the story at the Harrisburg Patriot-News.
With a generation of state legislative leaders snarled in political corruption probes, it may come as a surprise that Pennsylvania gets a C-minus overall in a new study ranking state governments for corruptibility.
All told, five legislative leaders in Pennsylvania have been convicted or pleaded guilty to corruption charges involving misuse of taxpayer dollars since 2008. Statehouses remain ripe for corruption and self-dealing, the study concludes.
Read the rest of the story at the Scranton Times-Tribune.