Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz recently unveiled a plan that, if she were elected governor, would clean up state politics.
The plan offers four separate recommendations: establish a position for a Chief Integrity Officer, improve government transparency and accountability, eliminate conflicts of interest and reform the Pennsylvania’s campaign finance laws.
The job of the Chief Integrity Officer would be to “promote ethics and integrity in state government.” The officer would be appointed by the governor but would work independently, referring only to the State Ethics Commission and Pennsylvania Inspector General.
In order to improve government transparency and accountability, Schwartz would implement “a complete prohibition on gifts for executive branch employees.” In addition, she would require all state employees to undergo ethics training and would also prohibit lobbyists from donating money to legal defense funds. The Chief Integrity Officer would be responsible for overseeing that all these recommendations are followed.
To eliminate conflicts of interest, Schwartz would ban all appointments that fall under that category, applying to both state employees and state pension board members. Her proposal would also create uniform guidelines for the amount of personal finances can be put into blind trusts. Again, the Chief Integrity Officer would enforce these recommendations.
Finally, Schwartz would place limits on campaign contributions and personal loans by candidates, while also banning cash contributions and increasing disclosure requirements.
Schwartz’s proposal seems to be a reaction to a number of recent incidents that have occurred in Pa. politics. With State Rep. J. P. Miranda’s (D-Philadelphia) conflict of interest charges and the now discontinued bribery sting operation that implicated four other State Reps., Schwartz is now running on a platform to clean up state government so that these incidents happen less frequently.
In addition, with Tom Wolf’s recent foray into gubernatorial frontrunner status due in large part to his expensive and self-financed ad campaign, Schwartz is going after Pa.’s unlimited campaign contribution rules, which only a “handful of states” actually allow.