Sanity returns, sort of

    Let’s hope Pennsylvania State Senate President Joe Scarnati proves to be a more effective legislative leader than he is an image manager.

    After getting drilled, pardon the expression, in Sunday’s Inquirer for accepting a free Super Bowl trip from of an energy company working the Marcellus Shale, Scarnati has announced he’ll reimburse the company for the expenses.

    “Was planning to from the start,” he wrote on Facebook, “but I don’t have the paperwork yet.”

    I don’t know why he would let Consol Energy advance him the tickets, plane fare and hotel. Isn’t that what a credit card is for?

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    But if he really was planning to pay the tab all along, it would have been nice if he’d made that clear to his chief of staff who had to talk to the Inquirer about it.

    Our own Scott Detrow sagely noted that accepting something like this would be illegal in a lot of states, and that New York Governor David Patterson paid a $60,000 ethics fine last year for copping free World Series tickets from the Yankees.

    So Scarnati managed to make this a longer and more painful story than he had to, but he may not be finished mucking it up.

    He’s announced that he’ll reimburse the energy company for the game tickets and hotel with his own money, but will tap his campaign fund for the airfare. Campaign funds are supposed to be used for campaign expenses.

    Scarnati’s chief of staff Drew Crompton said that “campaign issues were discussed on the flight.”

    So he uses campaign funds, $15,000 of which have come from Consol Energy since 2006, to reimburse Consol Energy for the plane ride. You smell something funny?

    Like I said, let’s hope he’s a better lawmaker than public relations man.

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