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PETER J. CAMIEL ET AL. v. STATE ETHICS COMMISSION ET AL. (02/09/81)

decided: February 9, 1981.

PETER J. CAMIEL ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
STATE ETHICS COMMISSION ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Original jurisdiction in the case of Peter J. Camiel, Vice-Chairman of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission on behalf of himself and other Turnpike Commissioners similarly situated; and Arthur Delinko, Comptroller/Chief Financial Officer on behalf of himself and all other employees of the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission similarly situated v. State Ethics Commission, Paul J. Smith, Chairman, and Richard A. Lewis, District Attorney for Dauphin County.

COUNSEL

Jacqueline M. Verney, Assistant Chief Counsel, with her Louis R. Martin, Acting Chief Counsel, for petitioners.

Sandra S. Christianson, General Counsel, with her, Robert E. Rains, Interim Chief Counsel, for respondent, State Ethics Commission.

Robert L. Knupp, Knupp and Andrews, P.C., with him Richard A. Lewis, District Attorney, for respondent, Richard A. Lewis.

President Judge Crumlish and Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Craig, MacPhail and Williams, Jr. Judge Blatt did not participate. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 519]

This Petition for Review addressed to our original jurisdiction presents the question of whether the Act of October 4, 1978, P.L. 883, No. 170, Section 1, 65 P.S. ยง 401 et seq. (Ethics Act), has application to Commissioners of the Pennsylvania Turnpike and to Turnpike employees. The petitioners are Peter J. Camiel and Arthur Delinko, respectively, vice-chairman and comptroller of the Turnpike Commission who sue for themselves and on behalf of other Commissioners and employees. They seek an order declaring that the Ethics Act generally and in particular the financial disclosure requirements of Section 4 are without application to them and enjoining the respondents, the State Ethics Commission and the District Attorney of Dauphin County, from enforcing the Act. The Ethics Commission has filed a preliminary objection in the nature of a demurrer, contending that petitioners are plainly subject to the Ethics Act. The District Attorney has filed preliminary objections, challenging the jurisdiction of this Court over him and in the nature of a demurrer. Since we sustain the Ethics Commission's demurrer and dismiss the Petition for Review, it is unnecessary separately to dispose of the District Attorney's objections.

I. The Turnpike Commissioners

The Ethics Act's purpose is to foster public confidence in government by forbidding or discouraging public servants from having financial interests which

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 520]

    conflict or appear to conflict with the public trust. Section 1 of the Ethics Act. In this vein, Section 4 of the Act requires public officials and public employees as defined in the Act to file financial disclosure statements.*fn1

The petitioners contend that Turnpike Commissioners are not public officials as defined in Section 2 of the Ethics Act:

Any elected or appointed official in the Executive, Legislative or Judicial Branch of the State or any political subdivision thereof, provided that it shall not include members of advisory boards that have no authority to expend public funds other than reimbursement for personal expenses, or to otherwise exercise the power of the state or any political subdivision thereof. 'Public official' shall not ...


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