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Ethics 02.5.2021

The sons of Minority Leader Jay Costa and Majority Leader Kim Ward are both registered lobbyists with the same lobbying firm, Cameron Companies.

Given Ward’s and Costa’s direct relationships to the top Republican and Democrat in the Senate, respectively, the sons’ clients could get special treatment across the Legislature and a leg-up in getting their legislative priorities across the finish line, said Khalif Ali, the executive director of good-government nonprofit Common Cause PA.

Ethics 08.6.2019

A city of Pittsburgh manager who sold himself a city-owned house for $2,500 violated the Ethics Act and must pay a penalty, according to a state Ethics Commission order issued Monday.

Micah C. T. Sims, executive director of the watchdog group Common Cause Pennsylvania, applauded the commission for the finding of a violation, but wondered whether the remedy was sufficient. “A slap on the hand is nice,” he said. But, he added, “This type of practice cannot continually go on.” He suggested that the city might take the house back and put it “up for sale again through the right process.”

Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli has taken on part-time work as a lawyer with a Pittsburgh firm.

Sims said it is not unusual for elected officials, including many in the state Legislature, to hold jobs as lawyers in addition to their positions as state representatives and senators. “We try to monitor to make sure the work doesn’t conflict with their state duties. As long as their work is not in direct conflict with their duties, we don’t see it as a problem,” Sims said.

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