The Hand Off
Pennsylvania can’t be the only place. Bribing a public official is against the law. But, the classic “hand off” is alive and well.
A couple of years ago, the Commonwealth’s citizens were instructed on how the Port Authority greased elected officials’ palms. The process begins with Port Authority senior officials were appointed by high level State officials (usually the Governor). These Port Authority jobs were high paying and with loose oversight. The Port Authority then proposed large scope projects which were approved. In order to be careful, the Port Authority hired big time law firms (just certain ones) to protect the interest of the toll paying public. And to complete the “hand off”, these law firms made generous donations to the high level elected officials’ campaign funds. Hmmm.
More recently, the public learned a Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice employed his spouse (a talented lawyer). The spouse referred several individuals to certain law firms who practices before the Supreme Court. As is the Pennsylvania customer, the law firms rewarded the spouse for the referrals. The “hand off” reward was not $800, but over $800,000. Hmmm.
This week the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office has focused upon 8 members of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Authority. Like the Port Authority, these hold appointed, well paid positions. The “hand off” goes like this. When an influential elected official needed a boost for their campaign fund treasury, they would call the Turnpike Authority head. The head in turn would contact one of the appointed officials. These officials would contact all their key vendors with the message “pay official X now and play later”. Hmmm.
When the workings of our Federal Government get frustrating, we are usually reminded that States do things more efficiently. Hmmm. If that is true (and I doubt it), it looks to me like “the hand off” is the hidden tax.