As former lawmaker is convicted of corruption, Pa. Senate renews ethics push

    Pennsylvania’s Senate could pass new rules defining how involved senators can be in nonprofit organizations that receive state grants.

    Revival of the ethics bill follows Monday’s guilty verdict of a former state lawmaker.

    The resolution, which has lingered in committee for almost a year, is again under discussion. It would outlaw conflicts of interest such as those in the case of former Democratic state Rep. Mike Veon. He was convicted of funneling public money to a nonprofit he ran, then using those funds and the organization for campaign work.

    Sen. Elder Vogel, R-Beaver County, helped draft the proposed rule to “spell out in black and white” what is acceptable.

    There has been no protocol for senators who weighed in on state grants while operating nonprofits, or putting their relatives or staffers in charge of such organizations, said Vogel, who represents the area that includes Veon’s old House district.

    “You were just told, once upon a time, ‘If it’s a bad idea, please don’t do this.’ But there were never any rules in place. This … set of rules, it designates, it lays out in a rule form, what you can do,” he said. It addresses issues such as “how many people have to be on a board of directors, and if a senator or Senate employee can be on a nonprofit board and etc.”

    The rules would apply to state senators, Senate staff, and relatives of anyone who falls into those categories.

    The Senate Majority Leader, however, says he doesn’t think anyone would be affected by the legislation now.

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