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Saturday, May 06, 2006
Posted 9:18 PM by

Pa. legislative leaders well-traveled, connected

State Rep. Mike Veon claims he holds no real estate interests and didn't accept either gifts or paid trips last year.Pennsylvania's legislative leaders didn't just take their salaries last year along with a now-repealed pay raise.

They also accepted income from outside sources, some gifts and had their trips to conferences, meetings and even China last year covered by somebody else, according to their most recent statement of financial interests filings, which were due May 1.

Most state officials, candidates, nominees and employees are required to file the form in order to declare any possible conflicts of interests they have. Failure to file can result in a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Of the forms for top House and Senate leaders I examined today, only two claimed not to own any real estate and one of them - powerful state Sen. Vincent Fumo - actually admitted he did.

Both he and House Minority Whip Michael Veon also claimed not to have received any gifts or free trips.

The most well-traveled among them was House Minority Leader H. William "Bill" DeWeese, of Waynesburg, Greene County. He listed his occupation as a "full-time state representative," but took seven trips outside of his district over 39 days, worth a total of $15,000.

The forms of DeWeese and Veon are the most interesting considering DeWeese punished 15 Democrats who voted against last year's legislative pay raise by removing them from committee leadership posts. DeWeese and Veon were the only state lawmakers to vote against repealing it after statewide outrage. DeWeese later caved in and voted for the repeal on its second vote, leaving Veon as the lone dissenter.

House Minority Leader H. William 'Bill' DeWeese took seven trips worth $15,000 over 39 days last year on somebody else's dime.Most of DeWeese's trips were on behalf of the non-profit State Legislative Leaders Foundation of Centerville, MA, of which he is a director. But from Aug. 4 to Aug. 9, 2005, he was part of a delegation of state legislative leaders to China. The trip's cost - $4,630 - was paid by the Taipei Economic & Cultural Office of New York.

DeWeese also accepted $800 worth of unspecified event tickets from Orbital Engineering Inc. of Pittsburgh.

The former speaker listed as another source of his income Community Bank of Carmichaels, Pa. However, he is not listed among its management or board of directors.

DeWeese was one of five legislators to have his trip to a "mid-year meeting," which cost $2,495, paid for by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.

Senate Majority Leader David 'Chip' Brightbill's had a $2,905 trip paid for by the Pennsylvania Bar Association.Senate Majority Leader David "Chip" Brightbill's trip for $2,905.50 was also covered as was Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer's trip, worth $3,038; Veon's $2,905.50 trip, and Senate Minority Leader Bob Mellow's $3,126.50 trip.

Jubelirer, of Hollidaysburg, Blair County, also had a $2,500 bill picked up while he was attending the Senate President's Forum in Princeton, N.J.

Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer took two trips last year totaling more than $5,500, but didn't pay a penny.He drew revenue from JCK&H Realty in Altoona, of which he owns 25 percent, and the Altoona law firm of Jubelirer, Carothers, Krier & Halpern, of which he owns less than 10 percent.

Brightbill listed his only other source of income as Lincoln Village/Budget Self-Storage, which he owns in Lebanon.

Mellow, of Peckville, Lackawanna County, filed three almost duplicative forms. They said he owns part of two accounting firms - a half-partner in James J. Mellow & Co., and quarter-partner in Mellow and Merkel. He also is a shareholder in real-estate and insurance company Giordano Associates Inc. and a director of Old Forge Bank.

House Majority Leader Samuel H. Smith of Jefferson County, drew revenue from two properties he owns in Punxsutawney, as well as a sale of stock in NAC Carbon Products Inc. of Punxsutawney.

House Majority Leader Samuel H. Smith had his hotel bill while attending President Bush's inaugural paid for by Reliant Energy.Smith listed $800 in Pro-Am gifts from the Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational and had his $856 hotel bill for attending the President Bush's inaugural paid by Reliant Energy of Houston, Tx.

Veon, of Beaver Falls, Beaver County, filed two forms with the state Ethics Commission. One as a state representative, the other as a director of the Pennsylvania State Employees' Retirement System.

Both listed him as co-chairman for the not-for-profit Beaver Initiative for Growth and said he accepted no gifts, trips and had no real estate interests.

The most expansive form of the day went to Fumo. The veteran Philadelphia Democrat isn't a legislative leader, but is minority chairman of the powerful Senate appropriations committee.

Fumo listed his occupation as "senator; banker; attorney" and claimed he received no gifts or transportation expenses. He also claimed he had no real estate interests after he transferred a rental property on South 13th Street to his son, Vincent E. Fumo III.

State Sen. Vincent Fumo claims he accepted no gifts or trips last year and has no real estate interests, but later listed five properties from which he's drawing an income.But later in the form,listed five properties as sources of income including four in Philly, one in Jupiter Island, Fla. and one in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Not the kind of mistake one would expect from a member of Mensa.

His many sources of income include: Chairman and shareholder of First Pennsylvania Bank, a board member of Independence Blue Cross, and director/chairman of PSA Service Corp., PSB Bank Corp., and Transnational Mortgage Corp. all of 1835 Market St., and numerous partnerships.

In addition to being a lawmaker, Fumo is also a member of the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Authority, a trustee of the Pennsylvania School Employees Retirement System and a designee on the Delaware River Port Authority.


Below are the latest statements of financial interests filed with the State Ethics Commission by some of the state's most powerful state legislators.

In order to read them, you must have Adobe's pdf reader installed in your browser. To down a free copy, click here or on the icon below:

Sen. David "Chip Brightbill

Rep. H. William "Bill" DeWeese

Sen. Vincent Fumo

Sen. Robert Jubelirer

Rep. Samuel H. Smith

Rep. Michael Veon 1

Rep. Michael Veon 2

Sen. Bob Mellow 1

Sen. Bob Mellow 2

Sen. Bob Mellow 3


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