HARRISBURG — Officials in Clearfield and Elk counties were among those who reported receiving items from vendors of election equipment.
According to a report released Friday by the Pennsylvania Auditor General, 18 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties reported accepting gifts, meals or trips from firms that sell election equipment in recent years.
Results were self-reported by county officials in response to a Department of the Auditor General request for information.
According to the report, both area counties accepted meals from vendors at various times.
According to the reports, Election System & Software hosted a dinner for officials in Harrisburg during the 2017 Pennsylvania County Election Officials conference, which was attended by Clearfield County officials. During the 2018 conference in Pittsburgh, Clearfield County officials attended a similar dinner hosted by Dominion Voting. In both cases, the value of individual dinners was unknown as the events were open to officials from across the state.
During the course of 2018, both ES&S and Dominion provided separate demonstrations of the equipment they sell in Clearfield and Elk counties. The companies provided lunch for the officials during the presentations. Elk County’s response indicated the meals consisted of food from Subway and Fox Pizza.
Elk County’s response noted that the county’s solicitor had been consulted and it was his opinion that the meals did not violate the state Ethics Act.
Some counties did report considerably larger gifts. Counties reported officials taking part in activities including going on wine and distillery tours, accepting thousands of dollars in travel and lodging provisions, attending cocktail parties and visiting an amusement park, all paid for by vendors.
State Ethics Act guidelines require public officials or employees submit statements of financial interest listing gifts received from someone other than a family member or close personal friend with a combined value $250 or more. Compensation for or provision of transportation, lodging and hospitality with a combined value of $650 or more must also be listed.
Pennsylvania counties are preparing to replace voting machines ahead of the 2020 election in compliance with a state mandate.