Joins lawmakers calling for tighter controls of travel, other expenses.
Harrisburg – State Sen. Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) today announced legislation that would provide greater controls and oversight of Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board expenses.
Senator Ward joined a group of lawmakers, in demanding answers from the PGCB regarding its travel expenses, namely trips to Italy and Las Vegas, after the governor imposed an out-of-state travel ban.
“At a time when the state is facing a $2.3 billion budget deficit, and families across Pennsylvania are tightening their belts, it is unacceptable that the Gaming Board is misspending casino proceeds that are supposed to be used for property tax relief,” said Ward. “Even worse, the board is asking the legislature for a six-percent funding increase in the budget. This has got to stop, and I’m introducing two bills to bring this waste to an end.”
One of Senator Ward’s bills would require an annual report by the Auditor General that would examine the Gaming Board’s financial statements, including an internal audit of the expenses and revenues of the board, as well as the amounts and uses of the distributions made from the state Gaming Fund and the state Gaming, Economic Development and Tourism Fund.
A second measure the senator is introducing would provide for transparency in the transportation costs of the Gaming Board by prohibiting leasing vehicles and requiring the board to use the state’s fleet of vehicles if they must have a car to carry out the duties of their employment. State taxpayers currently pay for vehicle leasing, insurance, and part of the mileage of three board members.
In September 2008, Gov. Ed Rendell enacted an out-of-state travel ban for state employees. Despite this ban, board members proceeded to attend conferences in Las Vegas and Rome, Italy, on the state’s dime.
A recent investigative report in Pittsburgh uncovered travel receipts from a board member that included reimbursements for dry cleaning and a tab at the pool bar while staying at a luxury, $400-a-night hotel in Rome. It was also discovered that David Kwait, former director of the PGCB’s Bureau of Investigation, went on a state-paid trip to a gaming conference in Las Vegas last fall after announcing his plans to retire. Kwait now works for a law firm who represents MTR Gaming, which owns casinos in West Virginia and Erie.
“The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board is one of the most expensive of regulatory boards in the nation. I am committed to working with my fellow legislators to ending the board’s excessive spending and changing the way it does business. We’re going to bring greater transparency to its operation and remind board members that they work for the taxpayers,” said Ward.
Contact: Rob Ritson