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CHARLES FORNEY v. STATE ETHICS COMMISSION ET AL. (02/10/81)

decided: February 10, 1981.

CHARLES FORNEY, JR. ET AL., PETITIONERS
v.
STATE ETHICS COMMISSION ET AL., RESPONDENTS



Original jurisdiction in the case of Charles Forney, et al. v. State Ethics Commission, et al.

COUNSEL

William H. Markus, with him Robert C. Riethmuller, Markus, Riethmuller & Smith, for petitioners.

Sandra S. Christianson, General Counsel, for respondent, State Ethics Commission.

President Judge Crumlish and Judges Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt, Craig, MacPhail, Williams, Jr. and Palladino. Opinion by Judge Rogers. Concurring and Dissenting Opinion by Judge Craig.

Author: Rogers

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 540]

The members of the board of the Patton-Ferguson Joint Authority, a municipal authority created pursuant to the Municipality Authorities Act of 1945, Act of May 2, 1945, P.L. 382, as amended, 53 P.S. § 301 et seq. ; the Authority's Executive Secretary; and its Solicitor have filed a Petition for Review seeking injunctive relief from the financial disclosure provisions of Section 4 of the Act of October 4, 1978, P.L. 883, as amended, 65 P.S. § 404 (Ethics Act). Section 4 requires compensated public officials and public employees to file annual statements disclosing their sources of income and their financial interests as particularly described in Section 5 of the Act. The respondent

[ 56 Pa. Commw. Page 541]

Ethics Commission has filed preliminary objections in the nature of a demurrer which are before us for disposition.

I Members of the Board of the Authority

The members of the board of the Authority say that they are not public officials, defined in Section 2 of the Ethics Act, as follows:

[a]ny elected or appointed official in Executive, Legislature 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 expense, or to otherwise exercise the power of the State or any political subdivision thereof. 'Public official' shall not include any appointed official who receives no compensation other than reimbursement for actual expenses.

The board members make essentially the same argument as that urged on us by the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commissioners in Camiel v. State Ethics Commission, 56 Pa. Commonwealth Ct. 518, 425 A.2d 60 (1981) -- that because municipal authorities have been called independent State agencies they cannot be said to be within any of the Branches of State government; so that the petitioners as board members are not officials in the Executive, Legislative or Judicial Branches of the State. In Camiel v. State Ethics Commission, supra, we concluded that since the powers of the Turnpike Commission were of necessity, either executive or legislative, the Commissioners must also be public officials in the Executive or Legislative Branch.

In Commonwealth ex rel. McCreary v. Major, 343 Pa. 355, 22 A.2d 686 (1941), one question before the court was whether members of the board of a municipal ...


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