Dave Galluch: A super time on someone else’s dime.

Newly elected Gov. Josh Shapiro promised transparency when it came to Pennsylvania’s government. In a way we can agree: when Shapiro talks about running an open administration, people can see right through him.

Since ascending to the governorship, Shapiro has kept secret the list of donors who paid for his lavish inaugural. He forced transition team members to sign nondisclosure agreements that carry hefty financial penalties if they tell anyone what was going on.

Now, the new governor has dipped into the least edifying corner of Harrisburg culture by using Team Pennsylvania Foundation, a group that receives government funds, to fly himself and his entourage to the Super Bowl.

That Shapiro took this freebee days after loosening the Wolf administration’s flat-out ban on gifts augurs ill for Pennsylvanians, who hoped the era of big-ticket goodies was fading into the past.

Team Pennsylvania was created to underwrite travels such as trade missions. It’s not there to supply free pleasure trips to politicians. Because its purpose was to promote economic development, the state gives Team Pennsylvania nearly $2 million it receives through the Department of Community and Economic Development. The governor’s spokesman insisted that no tax dollars were expended on the trip. That’s doubtful.

Only if you assume that every dollar spent somehow came from the private entities that fund Team Pennsylvania along with DCED could anyone make a half-plausible argument that taxpayer funds didn’t help to underwrite this jaunt to Arizona. 

Money is fungible. It doesn’t matter which specific dollars were spent. It matters that there was public money in the general budget from which this swell trip was underwritten.

True to bureaucratic form, the Shapiro administration refused to even say if he traveled by commercial air or in a private jet. They cited the governor’s security as their reason, without explaining how knowing whether he flew in a Lear Jet or an Airbus days earlier would somehow place him in peril. It strikes us that the only peril he is trying to prevent is that of Pennsylvanians finding out that, just weeks into his term of office, Josh Shapiro is living large on somebody else’s dime.

People are owed a clear account of who traveled, what was spent, and what was gained other than a good time for the fortunate few who orbit Planet Shapiro.

It is worth noting that Josh Shapiro has a history of digging into the bag of freebees offered by people with business in the public arena. He has taken thousands in prime seats at Philadelphia 76ers games, courtesy of the team’s owner. Likewise with tickets to Penguins hockey games.

This was not a case of a public official accepting a sandwich from the buffet at some reception, or even a night’s lodging to speak at a convention. This was a flat-out gift that most of us could only dream of enjoying. Most of us don’t have the $219,000 yearly income a governor receives, so we stayed home and watched it on television.

Gov. Shapiro – and possibly others – enjoyed the game free-of-charge. At the very least, we are entitled to know who paid, what was spent, and why he thinks this is all OK.

Dave Galluch is a 2012 graduate of the US Naval Academy and a former Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Officer. He is now a senior advisor to Keystone Forward, a newly formed government watchdog group based in Harrisburg.

6 thoughts on “Dave Galluch: A super time on someone else’s dime.”

  1. Par for the course. Go look at his behind the scenes activities with Parkhouse in Montco – bending/breaking rules, shadowy donors, bad business deals for taxpayers, etc

  2. This is not an issue anyone cares about- unless they are looking for a reason to be angry with Shapiro.

    Get a new issue.

    1. Public officials receiving ‘gifts’ that they won’t disclose is not an issue that anyone cares about? I submit that if it were a Republican receiving the gifts, you would care deeply.

      1. I agree if it were a Republican than the broader media communuty would care, but It’s a semantically confusing waste of time.

        The gift issues surrounding votes on charter schools that ensnared a number of elected, yes. People care about that.

        This isn’t cash or a necklace. This is something the Gov of PA should have gone to and it was paid for and disclosed in some process.

        No one cares about it. Go ask your average independent voter or moderate.

  3. Dung
    Many conservative 501C3 organizations are being harassed by the IRS for frivolous reasons.
    Given that money given to a public official to take a pleasure trip, it seems to me questionable use. As money donated was probably used to avoid taxes. One could wonder how many public officials have eaten at this trough.
    Dung your protest smell suspicious.

    1. Cicero – I don’t know what to tell you. You can scream at the wall, but David Galluch’s time is better spent raising awareness on issues voters will care about.

      This isn’t one of them.

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