Citizens must be ever-vigilant about the excessive influence of special interests and their lobbyists, because lobbyists' actions affect nearly every aspect of every Pennsylvanian's life. In 2006, after three decades of work, Common Cause Pennsylvania and its allies succeeded in enacting a lobbying disclosure law that gives Pennsylvanians basic information about state capitol lobbying. Learn More ›
Citizens need to be confident that their public officials are making decisions in the public's best interests. The current State Ethics Law requires state and local officials to disclose sources of outside income, and prohibits them from using the powers of their public offices directly to enrich themselves or their families. However, there are major defects in this law. For example:
- While the public can learn the sources of public officials' incomes, they cannot obtain sufficient information to learn the relative impact various sources of income may have on their officials' votes and decisions;
- Public officials and public employees are permitted to accept unlimited gifts and other perks from lobbyists and those who hire lobbyists;
- When government officials and employees leave their government jobs, they can go to work for businesses that they regulated or helped through votes, or lobby on behalf of such businesses just one year after leaving their government posts. This creates a "revolving door", where officials, while in office, can cater to the interests of a potential employer in order to secure a highly paid job upon leaving office.
- Pennsylvania's public officials currently are allowed to accept payment for sitting on corporate boards and then or take official actions to promote the welfare of those corporate interests in Pennsylvania.