State of Corruption: The conflicts conundrum |

State of Corruption: The conflicts conundrum

Things that are legal to do are not necessarily right to do — such as actions that create appearances of conflicts of interest, to which Pennsylvania state government too long has been blind.

One defendant’s lawyer in a Pennsylvania Turnpike “pay-to-play” case — begun by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett as attorney general and prosecuted by Democrat Attorney General Kathleen Kane — claims political bias. Arguing that soliciting and accepting turnpike contractors’ campaign contributions is technically legal and has been done by Republicans including Mr. Corbett, he questions why his client, George Hatalowich, the turnpike commission’s chief operating officer under former Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell, is facing six criminal counts.

That’s an implicit endorsement of state government’s conflict-of-interest blind spot, part of business as usual in reprehensibly corrupt, “everybody does it” Harrisburg. And ignoring appearances of conflicts of interest — which both parties should avoid at all costs — leads to conflicts that can constitute criminal offenses.

A conflict-of-interest charge is among the six criminal counts Mr. Hatalowich faces. Whether his conduct indeed was criminal will be decided in court. But there’s no denying the appearance of a conflict of interest in his case.

Until officials such as Hatalowich recognize and avoid potential conflicts of interest — and, thereby, criminal conflict charges — Pennsylvania will deserve its State of Corruption label.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.