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CPBJ Extra Blog

CREW report names Corbett as one of US's worst governors

Amy Gulli
Amy Gulli

I feel like I've been harping on Gov. Tom Corbett for the last few weeks in this blog, and I was planning to write about something completely different today.

And then this report came out. It's an annual pronouncement by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, which describes itself on its website as a nonprofit "dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials who sacrifice the common good to special interests."

Corbett is listed in the "Worst Governors in America" report in the middle section — dubbed "Clowns" in the index — which means he's not the worst of the worst (the "Ringmasters"), but he's not skating the line of almost-not-so-terrible ("Sideshows").

Just what are the ethical sins Corbett has committed, according to this report? He has:

• accepted multiple gifts for himself and his wife from executives with several companies who have businesses regulated by the state (gifts to public officials are legal in Pennsylvania, the report points out, but gifts from such execs are not)

• failed to disclose a contract with a Philadelphia law firm to represent the state in its voter ID fight

• been under investigation to determine exactly how much he knew about convicted child molester and former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky's criminal activities while he was attorney general

• pushed a voter ID law that was eventually shot down in part by the courts and, while defending the law, used data that was verifiably false.

I find it interesting the report doesn't mention his failed lottery privatization plan, which Attorney General Kathleen Kane determined was executed in a way that violated the state Constitution.

Corbett's peers in the "Clowns" group include Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, whose list of questionable practices features many of the same as Corbett's, as well as allegations of pay-to-play appointments and misuse of federal funds; and Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona, who has been giving out unnecessary bonuses and using taxpayer money at least in part to fund extravagant travel, according to the report.

The worst of the worst — the "Ringmasters — in case you were wondering? Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Maine Gov. Paul LePage, Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Amy Gulli is the managing editor of the Central Penn Business Journal. Contact her at or follow her on Twitter, @amygulli.

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