Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tough going for professional couples in public service...

There's a bit of a fracas in Harrisburg at the moment over two reappointments to Governor Rendell's cabinet, specifically the Secretaries of Environmental Protection and of Conservation and Natural Resources. Both were put up for reappointment, then challenged by Senators, withdrawn, and then submitted to an ethics review process. It appears that there are conflicts of interest involving both people, specifically in that their spouses applied for grants from their departments (see previous here), and no amount of reassurance about the competitive award process is making anybody sleep well, however talented these public servants might be.

Anyway, I'm not clear how this belated challenge came about (since both officials have been serving for some time), but it's hard not to cringe at such spousal connections. The state Ethics Commission has so far ruled only on the propriety of any future grants, but it may be that they have investigations of past awards underway as well. Either way, Rendell may have to seek out some new stewards of the state's environment.

Update: YPP has coverage of this story painting the accused officials as rock-stars of environmental oversight and the investigation as a right-wing witch-hunt. It certainly made me curious. I recommend that post, and their recommendation to take action.


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