Governor Corbett has failed to list an out-of-state vacation home he bought last year on his annual financial disclosure form.
The governor and his wife, First Lady Susan Corbett spent $265,000 last year on a condo at a beachfront resort community in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Public records show the deed and mortgage documents were filed December 5, 2012, but the governor did not list it in his annual Code of Conduct statement of financial interest.
Code of Conduct “Is Not Law”
Under a 1984 executive order known as the Governor’s Code of Conduct, Corbett and his staff are required to disclose all in-state and out-of-state real estate interests, excluding their home or principal residence.
StateImpact Pennsylvania obtained the forms through the state’s Right To Know Law. The documents were filed with the Office of Administration in May and cover the preceding calendar year (2012).
When questioned about the omission, the governor’s office initially told StateImpact Pennsylvania the Corbetts were still closing on the house through the end of the calendar year and thus didn’t need to report it.
However, Corbett spokeswoman Kelli Roberts later said it was a misunderstanding about the language on the form, which allows someone to exclude his or her “home or principal residence.”
She says the governor thought that since this is a vacation “home”, it did not fall under the reporting requirements.
“It’s not something anyone is trying to hide,” Roberts says.
The governor’s office now plans to amend the filing.
Former Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Michael Krancer also failed to list a $1 million home he bought last year in the ski resort town of Stowe, Vermont.
On Krancer’s financial disclosure form, he doesn’t list any real estate interests, but public deed records filed with the town of Stowe show he and his wife bought the home in December 2012.
Krancer was the state’s top environmental regulator, charged with overseeing the development of the natural gas industry. He resigned last spring to work as an attorney representing energy companies and did not respond to requests for comment.
Corbett has said his administration follows the state ethics laws, but the “Code of Conduct is not law.”
However, he and his staff continue to file the disclosure forms each year and many members of his cabinet do list their second homes and investment properties. The forms are not audited.
“It’s a policy directive that we comply with as a condition of our employment,” says Roberts.
Promoting PA Tourism
Despite the out-of-state vacation property, the Corbetts continue to promote tourism in Pennsylvania.
As First Lady, Susan Corbett has partnered with the state’s Department of Community and Economic Development. She serves as Pennsylvania’s honorary First Tourist working to attract visitors to the state.
“Tourism is actually the number one reason people visit Pennsylvania,” she told witf’s Radio Smart Talk in a recent interview. “I do a lot of things to bring visibility to all of the amazing cultural assets that Pennsylvania has.”
Susan Corbett has also traveled overseas on the governor’s trade missions — specifically to promote the state’s tourism industry.
In 2012, she received a trip to France and Germany valued at $10,856 from the Team Pennsylvania Foundation — a public-private economic development organization. This spring, she joined her husband on another Team PA-funded trade mission to Brazil and Chile.
Last week the governor took his third-annual kayaking trip to promote the state’s natural resources. In a press release his office noted that tourism is the state’s second largest industry, providing nearly 300,000 jobs.
“Our state is a place everyone should tour with their families and friends,” Corbett said in a statement, “Working together, we can continue to grow this industry for Pennsylvania and all those it employs.”
Last year Corbett was six months late in disclosing a yacht vacation he received from a friend and campaign donor. A spokesman blamed the omission on a clerical error.