Violation of ethics resulting from red tape, conflict | Editorials

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Former Mahoning Township Supervisor TS Scott broke the Public Servants and Employees Ethics Act by participating in discussions and voting in 2019 to invest township funds in the Service 1st Federal Credit Union, a company that employed his wife.

That’s according to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission. The commission also found that Scott failed to disclose the township as a reportable source of income on the declarations of financial interests he filed for calendar years 2017 and 2018 and failed to disclose his position, his tenure or employment with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company on declarations of financial interests. he filed.

According to the commission’s findings, Scott also took steps before the 2019 vote to transfer township money to Service 1st. The commission says it ordered the township treasurer to open an account with Service 1st for the township as early as 2016, without disclosing that information to other supervisors.

At the November 18, 2016 meeting, Houck asked supervisors to open an account with Service 1st, and Scott reported that his wife was a finance specialist for Service 1st. The $8 million investment from the sale of the township’s water and sewer services was expected to earn Service 1st $50,000 less over 30 months than Jersey Shore State Bank.

“During a year-long investigation, the state Ethics Commission determined that neither I nor my wife benefited financially or otherwise from selling and depositing the funds into Service 1st Credit Union where my wife was employed,” Scott said in a statement. “In their judgment, my efforts enabled the financial institution to benefit from the deposit, even though neither I nor my wife benefited personally or directly ourselves.”

The state ethics commission said the Scotts did not benefit, but Service 1st Federal Credit Union did. Scott said many people made many mistakes when completing declarations of financial interests.

“While others had made the same mistakes or others, which they had the opportunity to correct without penalty, the Ethics Commission fined me $250 for each of three years for the mistakes that I had committed on these forms. I learned that with the same information, people come to their own conclusions based on their perspective and experiences and that these are not always the same.

Scott was ordered to pay $750, resign as supervisor within 30 days, and he cannot hold office for five years after his resignation. He didn’t have to worry about quitting as he already did in March to care for his wife, Karen, who is battling cancer for the fourth time.

Local elected representatives must avoid conflicts of interest, or even the appearance of conflicts of interest, insofar as they manage the commune or department where they and their neighbors live.

The solution to this problem – with perfect 20/20 hindsight, of course – is to ensure that every I is dotted and every T is crossed out, and that full disclosure is made whenever the smallest of conflicts occurs. It is also worth giving serious thought to abstaining in votes which can present a conflict, a somewhat more difficult task in a small community where so many things and people are connected.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in The Daily Item are the consensus of the editor, key newsroom executives, and community members of the editorial board. Today was written by editor Eric Pehowic.

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