A bill sponsored by State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinsk (D) appears to be poised to benefit a nonprofit he helps run, a nonprofit which also shares the address of his district offices.
Pashinski is the lead sponsor of House Bill 931, titled The Kinship Care Legal Assistance Grant Program. Kinship care usually refers to grandchildren who are raised by their grandparents or other relatives.
The bill’s legislative memo says, “this program will award grant funds to eligible non-profit organizations that provide civil legal services to kinship care families. Grant funds awarded are to be used for the administrative, civil legal services, and other costs associated with a kinship caregiver.”
According to a news editorial authored by Pashinski, he’s the founder of the nonprofit organization Advocacy Fund For Grandparents Raising Grandchildren, or AF4GRG.
Regardless of how noble or well-intentioned the cause may be, authoring legislation that would potentially award grants to the representative’s own nonprofit raises ethical questions.
Additionally, a search of the “Advocacy Fund” on the Pennsylvania Department of State business search website shows that the AF4GRG shares the same Wilkes-Barre address as Pashinski’s district offices. An ethics form Pashinski filed in 2022 also lists the AF4GRG as being at the district office address. In that same form, Pashinksi wrote he obtained “no pay” from the nonprofit.
A 2009 ethics memo from the Pennsylvania House Committee on Ethics specifically states that a member may not “use governmental facilities, such as governmental telephones, postage, equipment, research materials, or other property to conduct the private business of the non-profit,” (emphasis added).
The Department of State website also shows the AF4GRG nonprofit was established last year.
Pashinski and his staff did not return emails asking about these potential ethical conflicts, including questions whether AF4GRG had paid staff and whether Pashinski might recuse himself from any votes on the bill.
According to his website biography, Pashinski was first elected to the Pennsylvania House in 2006, and represents District 121, including Wilkes-Barre in Luzerne County.
In his op-ed with the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader, Pashkinski estimated that roughly 80,000 grandparents or other family members in the commonwealth are giving kinship care to 165,000 children.
“Keeping these children with kin and out of the foster care system is one of the most effective tools we must use to break the cycle of opioid addiction and end this horrific epidemic,” he wrote.
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at firstname.lastname@example.org, or use his encrypted email at email@example.com. @shepherdreports