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Pa. Senate passes cash gift ban in wake of corruption scandal

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In the wake of a corruption scandal involving state lawmakers allegedly accepting gifts as part of a sting operation, the Pa. Senate voted Wednesday to ban cash gifts for all state and local public officials and employees.

The bill (click here) now goes to the House. Further, the Senate passed a resolution applying the ban to senators and their employees.

Sen. Lisa Baker (R-20), one of the bill’s sponsors, said, “It’s an egregious situation that needs to be rectified. I see no good for any public official to accept cash ever.”

The bill makes it illegal to accept cash or the equivalent, such as checks or gift cards. There are exceptions for gifts from family members.

It would be a felony to accept a gift of $250 or more and a misdemeanor to accept a gift less than $250.

Activist Gene Stilp, who has filed ethics complaints and personal criminal complaints against the lawmakers alleged to have taken gifts, says the ban should go further to apply to all gifts, including things like jewelry and tickets to events.

“What we’re looking for is a total ban on all gifts, not only for the Legislature, but for the judiciary and also the executive branch. So, we’ll be pushing that really hard,” said Stilp.

Baker noted there will be a public hearing on April 28 to consider further steps lawmakers could take.