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ANN DENONCOURT v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (12/30/83)

decided: December 30, 1983.

ANN DENONCOURT, DONALD R. TINSMAN, LINDA T. BUTLER AND RUDOLPH E. BUTLER, JR., APPELLANTS,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE ETHICS COMMISSION, APPELLEE



No. 22 M.D. Appeal Docket, 1983, Appeal from the Opinion and Order entered March 21, 1983 of the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania at No. 2793 C.D. 1981, Pa. Commwlth. Ct. , Roberts, C.j., and Nix, Larsen, Flaherty, McDermott, Hutchinson and Zappala, JJ. Roberts, C.j., joins Part I of this opinion. Hutchinson, J., files a concurring and dissenting opinion. Nix, J., files a dissenting opinion in which Larsen, J., joins.

Author: Flaherty

[ 504 Pa. Page 193]

OPINION OF THE COURT*fn1

This is an appeal from an order of the Commonwealth Court, 73 Pa. Commw. 59, 457 A.2d 213, granting summary

[ 504 Pa. Page 194]

    judgment to the State Ethics Commission in a class action*fn2 brought by incumbent school directors seeking declaratory and injunctive relief from the enforcement of Sections 4, 5 and 9 of the Public Officials Ethics Act (Ethics Act)*fn3 on the grounds that these sections of the act are unconstitutional. These sections of the act provide, in essence, that a public official must, as a condition for taking the oath of office or continuing to perform his duties, and as a condition to receive payment for his services, file a statement of financial interests, § 404(d), which statement shall include the following information with respect to the public official and members of his "immediate family," i.e., "[a] spouse residing in the person's household and minor dependent children," § 402:

(1) The name, address and position of the person required to file the statement.

(2) The occupations or professions of the person required to file the statement and those of his immediate family.

(3) Any direct or indirect interest in any real estate which was sold or leased to the Commonwealth, any of its agencies or political subdivisions; purchased or leased from the Commonwealth, any of its agencies or political subdivisions; or which was the subject of any condemnation proceedings by the Commonwealth, any of its agencies or political subdivisions.

(4) The name and address of each creditor to whom is owed in excess of $5,000 and the interest rate thereon. However, loans or credit extended between members of the immediate family and mortgages securing real property

[ 504 Pa. Page 195]

    which is the principal residence of the person filing or of his spouse shall not be included.

(5) The name and address of any person who is the direct or indirect source of income totaling in the aggregate $500 or more. However, this provision shall not be construed to require the divulgence of confidential information protected by statute or existing professional codes of ethics.

(6) The name and address of any person from whom a gift or gifts valued in the aggregate at $200 or more were received, and the value and the circumstances of each gift. However, this provision shall not be applicable to gifts received from the individual's spouse, parents, parents by marriage, siblings, children or grandchildren.

(7) The source of any honorarium received which is in excess of $100.

(8) Any office, directorship or employment of any nature whatsoever in any business entity.

(9) Any financial interest in any legal entity engaged in business for profit.

(c) The statement of financial interest need not include specific amounts for any of the items required to be listed.

65 Pa.C.S.A. § 405(b), (c). The penalty section of the act provides, in pertinent part:

(b) Any person who violates the provisions of . . . section 4 [section 404 of Title 65] is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned for not more than one year, or be both fined and imprisoned.

65 Pa.C.S.A. § 409(b). This appeal followed Commonwealth Court's grant of summary judgment to the Ethics Commission.

Appellant school directors allege that these provisions of the Ethics Act are unconstitutional as to the directors in that the statutory provision for criminal prosecution in the event of non-disclosure of the financial affairs of members of his immediate family denies due process ...


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