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Home » Public gasoline authority tightens journey coverage after Uncovered studies about dear journeys | Uncovered

Public gasoline authority tightens journey coverage after Uncovered studies about dear journeys | Uncovered

A public gasoline authority highlighted in The Put up and Courier’s Uncovered mission not too long ago tightened journey restrictions within the wake of studies that board members and employees jetted off to far-flung locales the place they and their spouses dined at dear eating places, whizzed down zip traces and took glass-blowing classes — all on the ratepayers’ tab.

The York County Pure Gasoline board quietly modified its insurance policies, barring the company from paying for spouses’ journeys and bills that are not straight associated to authority enterprise, copies of the coverage present.

Paul Dillingham, an legal professional for the company, declined to remark in regards to the modifications. However state Sen. Wes Climer, R-Rock Hill, stated: “It is encouraging to see the board take proactive steps to save lots of ratepayer cash.”

Climer stated the state nonetheless wants laws to make York and related utilities extra accountable to the general public.

He and 4 different senators filed a invoice that might shut a loophole within the state ethics regulation after the preliminary Uncovered report. The loophole shields gasoline authority board members from releasing annual monetary disclosures — one thing that different public officers are required to do. The disclosure is designed to forestall conflicts of curiosity and fraud.

Earlier this 12 months, the newspaper’s Uncovered investigation uncovered how York County Pure Gasoline Authority and 4 different gasoline companies operated like soft fiefdoms, with employees wining and eating board members who permitted their salaries and bonuses, and organizing costly cross-country junkets.

In 2018, for example, employees and board members from York, Chester and Lancaster gasoline authorities flew to Portland, Ore., for a convention, most taking their wives or husbands alongside.

As soon as there, they charged the company’s bank card $1,354 to device round on Segways. The York contingent paid for a $3,600 “sea to summit” vineyard tour someday, and a $3,300 tour of the Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood with a comfortable dinner in a stone lodge overlooking the 620-foot waterfall.

Collectively, the three authorities spent greater than $160,000 on that one convention in Portland.

It was the continuation of a protracted sample of extreme spending by these little-scrutinized companies. In 2019, York and Lancaster board members and employees went to the Inexperienced Mountains of Vermont, flying down zip traces, touring Ben & Jerry’s ice cream manufacturing unit and spending $357 on glass-blowing classes. That tour value ratepayers no less than $130,000.

Instantly after the Uncovered report, the pinnacle of Chester County Pure Gasoline Authority, Jason Stewart, defended the company’s practices.

He informed The (Chester) Information & Reporter, an Uncovered associate, that he noticed no downside with journeys with spouses, together with a three-day retreat on the swank Omni Grove Park Inn in Asheville, N.C. — a gathering that value $34,000 for lodging, meals, golf and a tour of Biltmore Property.

Dillingham, who additionally represents the Chester and Lancaster gasoline authorities, stated these companies additionally would haven’t any feedback about whether or not officers plan to tighten their journey insurance policies. 

Officers with Fort Hill Pure Gasoline Authority in Easley and Clinton-Newberry Pure Gasoline Authority didn’t reply to requests for remark.

SC gas authority highlighted in Uncovered makes changes, Newberry Observer reports

After this 12 months’s first Uncovered report, a number of board members of the Clinton Newberry Pure Gasoline Authority amended their studies to the State Ethics Fee to replicate equipment offers they’d acquired however weren’t obtainable to the general public.

South Carolina’s ethics regulation says {that a} public official should not use the job to “get hold of an financial curiosity for himself.” And if officers do obtain items or helpful perks, they have to report them to the Ethics Fee, in line with the regulation.

The governor appoints board members in Chester, Lancaster, York and Fort Hill. (Clinton-Newberry’s board members are appointed by native governments.) A spokesman for Gov. Henry McMaster had no remark Sept. 7 about York’s new insurance policies.

News deserts and weak ethics laws allow corruption to run rampant in SC

Attain Tony Bartelme at 843-937-5554. Comply with him on Twitter @tbartelme.