Governor Josh Shapiro’s office says his recent trip to Super Bowl LVII in Phoenix, Arizona was paid for by the nonprofit “Team Pennsylvania,” thereby allowing him to make the trip without cost to himself or to taxpayers.

Broad + Liberty filed questions with Shapiro’s office Tuesday morning about the issue after an article the same day from Spotlight PA raised ethics questions about the governor’s attendance at a recent Philadelphia 76ers game.

The Spotlight PA article noted that Shapiro was at the basketball game with “a longtime campaign donor and co-chair of his inaugural committee,” which raised the question, “When is a gift to a public official not a gift?

Cartoon by Tim Hartman

“Manuel Bonder, a spokesperson for Shapiro’s transition who now works for the administration, told Spotlight PA the outing was a ‘political meeting.’ He didn’t expand on that or say who paid for the tickets, which conservatively cost $3,000 a pop,” the report said.

Shapiro, a Democrat, is less than two months into his first term.

Broad + Liberty asked Shapiro to detail the funds for all components of his trip to Phoenix for the championship contest featuring the Philadelphia Eagles, components such as travel, lodging, meals, and tickets, and to add as much other detail as possible in circumstances where taxpayer money might have been used.

“The Governor was proud to attend the Super Bowl as an ambassador for all Pennsylvania has to offer and to cheer on the Eagles alongside several other governors. As has been the case in previous administrations, no taxpayer money was spent on the trip thanks to a partnership with the Team PA foundation,” Bonder said.

The administration did not respond to follow up questions, such as whether Team Pennsylvania was the only source of funding for all elements of the trip, and whether Shapiro actually attended the game. Several media reports have shown Shapiro at pregame activities, but no media reports or social media posts appear to show him inside the stadium during the contest.

The group’s website describes Team Pennsylvania as “a non-partisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit established in 1997 to connect private and public sector leaders to achieve and sustain progress for Pennsylvania. Strong relationships between business and industry are necessary to facilitate partnerships for the betterment of our Commonwealth.”

Given the wealth of major league teams who call the commonwealth home, these issues are nothing new to Pennsylvania politics.

In 2018, then-Governor Tom Wolf (D) told reporters he’d pay out of his own pocket for the trip to Super Bowl LII between the Eagles and the New England Patriots.

In 2011, Gov. Tom Corbett (R) told reporters “The governor will be paying for his own way to the game in Arlington, Texas, including tickets and the flight, according to Kirsten Page, his spokeswoman. She said the travel plans do not include use of the state plane,” according to a report from

The Green Bay Packers defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers that year in Super Bowl XLV.

Another ethics issue flared up in the earliest months of the Shapiro administration, which hoped to convert a massive 56-41 electoral victory into a long inaugural honeymoon.

Shapiro faced scrutiny, again from Spotlight PA, over the use of a nonprofit to fund his inaugural ceremonies and celebrations. By using a nonprofit instead of a political action committee, Shapiro was able to keep a veil of secrecy around inaugural donors and the amounts they contributed. The outlet also reported that members of the Shapiro transition team were required to sign nondisclosure agreements.

“Mr. Shapiro could argue that all this secrecy was essential to ensuring an orderly (and well-funded) transition to a new administration. But if it is a harbinger of a closed administration that expects the public to accept its narratives without question, the transition may also be remembered for revealing a damaging hubris,” the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s editorial pages said.

Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at, or use his encrypted email at @shepherdreports

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