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Republicans Want to End the Revolving Door of Gaming Lawyers
2/12/2009
In an effort to end the revolving door of lawyers and board members of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) from going to work in the casino industry, Rep. Rob Kauffman (R-Franklin/Cumberland) today introduced legislation to clarify any confusion about whether Gaming Board employees may work for or represent casinos immediately after working for the Gaming Board. 
 
“For a change, the state’s gaming law is clear,” Kauffman said. “The revolving door should be closed for any and all employees or board members from going to work for a casino or as its lobbyist. In at least four instances the law has been ignored.”
 
The Gaming Law, Title 4 (Gaming) states, “No employee of the board...whose duties substantially involve licensing” or “enforcement...shall...accept employment with” a casino “for a period of one year after” leaving the board.
 
Due to objections by former PGCB employees that the law cannot apply to attorneys, because attorneys fall within the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, the prohibition has apparently been ignored by attorneys leaving the Gaming Control Board. 
 
According to Kauffman, while the Supreme Court has never ruled on this matter, the State Ethics Commission has and stated in an April 2007 ruling:
 
“Fundamentally, it is for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to determine whether to exclude attorneys from the prohibitions of Section 1201(h)(13) of the Gaming Act. This Commission does not presume to know what approach the Court might take in that regard... (The court may) determine that attorneys shall be subject to the prohibitions of Section 1201(h)(13)....
 
Kauffman’s legislation will do the following:
 
No casino applicant, casino or its affiliates may: 
  • Employ a member of the board for a period of two years after their term of office.
  • Employ a former employee of the board (duties must affect licensing, enforcement or development of regulations or policy) for the period of one year after termination.
  • Employ an individual who was an independent contractor of the board (same duties as former employee) for 1 year. 
If the casino applicant, casino or affiliate violates this, the following penalties would apply: 
  • Immediately terminate the offending employment.
  • Pay a fine, deposited into the Gaming Fund, equivalent to any salary or payment received by the employee. 
Kauffman noted the problem began upon the departure of former Board Chairman Tad Decker.  Decker went to work for the law firm, Cozen O’Connor as its president and CEO. His duties include full oversight of the law firm and its attorneys.  Cozen O’Connor represents several casinos. Decker stated he would not be a conflict of interest and would not be involved in gaming activities. (See news story 1.)
 
A second example noted by Kauffman is Kevin Hayes, former director of the Office of Gaming Operations (see news 2). Hayes is listed on PGCB’s list of “licensed entity representatives” for Mohegan Sun and Philadelphia Park. Hayes is also a registered lobbyist (see attachment 4) through the state’s lobbyist disclosure law, according to the Department State Records.
 
Finally, Kauffman cited a Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article which reported that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman said at least four attorneys have left the Gaming Control Board to work for casinos (see news 3, highlighted). Harbach was quoted as saying, “This happens all the time when government attorneys leave for the private sector.”
 
“The law is the law, and until a court says otherwise, the restrictions should apply to all licensing and enforcement employees of the board – including attorneys,” Kauffman said. “The gaming law needs to be fixed and clarified. We hope House Democrats will take gaming reform seriously this session. It is about time.”
 
Rep. Rob Kauffman
89th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
(717) 705-2004
(717) 264-3943
Member Site: RepKauffman.com
Contact: Sean Yeakle
(717) 787-3406
Caucus Site: 
PAHouseGOP.com