Sunshine Week Round-Up: Governor Wolf Sets High Standard for a Transparent Government that Works

March 18, 2015

Harrisburg, PA – On Inauguration Day, Governor Wolf issued an Executive Order banning his administration from accepting gifts. Gov. Wolf went on to send letters to dozens of state agencies urging them to enact the same policy, and he began the practice of electronically releasing his calendar to the public. Since these very first actions as governor, Gov. Wolf has been praised statewide for his moves towards transparent government that works in Pennsylvania.

In light of this year’s Sunshine Week in the Commonwealth, check out the coverage of Governor Wolf’s actions to give Pennsylvania an open government that works:

Philadelphia Inquirer: Op-Ed: Sunshine creeps into dark corners of Harrisburg.
“Gov. Wolf is setting the pace to become the most open administration in state history, if not the country. Despite the pending issue of whether the executive director is an at-will employee, consider the actions of the new chief executive. On Inauguration Day, he issued an order banning his administration from accepting gifts, asked me to train his new cabinet on the fundamentals of the Right-to-Know Law (he sat in the front row), and made his calendar electronically available to the public. Compare these actions with the previous administration, which barred the Office of Open Records from directly contacting cabinet members, denied a request for a copy of the state constitution, and went to court to block release of the governor’s daily calendar.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 03/18/15]

Hanover Evening Sun: Editorial: Gift-giving should be banned.
“Gov. Tom Wolf set the correct tone when, just minutes after taking the oath as the 47th governor of Pennsylvania, he signed an executive order forbidding members of his administration from accepting gifts. Bravo! It’s a move long overdue.” [Hanover Evening Sun, 01/30/15]

Philadelphia Magazine: Tom Wolf will post his work calendar online.
“Gov. Wolf’s schedule of private meetings with lobbyists, elected officials and others may soon be available for anyone with access to the Internet to see… He will also post his public appearances online a day in advance. This is a potentially huge deal… In his first days in office, Wolf has taken a number of actions related to government transparency.” [Philadelphia Magazine, 01/29/15]

Erie Times-News: Editorial: Pa.’s corruption must end.
“Wolf is keenly aware that Pennsylvania politicians and government officials have an unsavory history of corrupt deal-making. On the day he was inaugurated, Wolf signed an executive order banning anyone in his administration from accepting gifts. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board have followed suit… Wolf wrote to more than two dozen independent state commissions, authorities and other agencies urging them to ban gifts as well. The gift ban is a hopeful sign that Wolf will deliver on his promise to change Pennsylvania government’s culture.” [Erie Times-News, 02/05/15]

Times News: Op-Ed: Ethical: Gov. Wolf is stepping up to instill public confidence.
“Transparency was a word that we heard a lot when the Obama administration came to Washington… On the state level, Pennsylvania’s new executive seems to be taking a more proactive approach for employees. After Gov. Tom Wolf imposed a gift ban on employees within the executive-branch, two agencies, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, followed his lead of not accepting gifts. Wolf applauded the PLCB’s move, which was voluntary since it has an independent administrative board and is not technically under the governor’s jurisdiction. The governor said he hopes they will help restore public trust in state government… Having state workers toe the line strengthens the ethics profile of state governments.” [Times News, 02/04/15]

Times-Tribune: Editorial: Could ethics become contagious?
“Gov. Tom Wolf’s first act was to establish an administration-wide ban on the receipt of ‘gifts’ from anyone doing any business with the state government. Whereas that might seem obvious, it wasn’t the rule during the Corbett administration, when Gov. Tom Corbett himself received travel and lodging, for example… Remarkably, Mr. Wolf’s ban within the part of the government he directly controls has spread across Harrisburg… First up was the state Turnpike Commission… It adopted a gift ban soon after Mr. Wolf took office and quickly was followed by the state Liquor Control Board… The governor also has called upon an array of state boards and commissions that conduct billions of dollars’ worth of business on behalf of the state government…. Lawmakers should follow the governor’s lead and ban all gifts from anyone doing business with the commonwealth.” [Times-Tribune, 02/06/15]

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Editorial: Gifts corrupt: Pennsylvania needs a law, not executive orders. 
“Three independent decisions were made in two weeks to prohibit state employees from accepting gifts. The most significant was declared by Gov. Tom Wolf on Jan. 20, the day he was inaugurated. His order bars all state workers under the governor’s jurisdiction from accepting or soliciting anything of value, unless it’s a gift from a friend or family member… A week after Mr. Wolf declared his gift ban, the new chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission, former state Sen. Sean Logan, issued a similar rule for the toll road system’s employees… On Jan. 30 the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board instituted its own ban on gifts.. Now Mr. Wolf… is urging more than two dozen independent state commissions, authorities and other agencies to impose their own gift bans on employees.” [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 02/08/15]

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Sheridan – 717.783.1116

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