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PENNSYLVANIA STATE ASSOCIATION TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (11/01/85)

decided: November 1, 1985.

PENNSYLVANIA STATE ASSOCIATION OF TOWNSHIP SUPERVISORS, PETITIONER
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE ETHICS COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Appeal from the Order of the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission in the case of In Re: Petition to Intervene, Reconsideration Request, PSATS, COWIE, 84-010, No. 84-010-R, dated October 10, 1984.

COUNSEL

Thomas L. Wenger, with him, Karen Parenti Gunnison, Wix, Wenger & Weidner, for petitioner.

John J. Contino, General Counsel, with him, Sandra S. Christianson, for respondent.

Judges Rogers and MacPhail, and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.

Author: Rogers

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 545]

The issue of this appeal is that of whether the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission (Commission) committed an abuse of discretion in denying the petitioner, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors' (PSATS), request for reconsideration of a Commission opinion issued under Section 7(a)(i) of the Act of October 4, 1978, P.L. 883, 65 P.S. §§ 401-413 (the Act).

It is important to note that PSATS was not a party to the Commission proceeding which produced the opinion which PSATS asked to be reconsidered.

[ 92 Pa. Commw. Page 546]

The opinion in question was made in a proceeding commenced on March 12, 1984 when Donald W. Cowie, a township supervisor, requested the Commission's opinion as to whether he could lawfully receive group health insurance coverage provided by the township.

The Commission conducted a hearing on Cowie's request on May 15, 1984. On May 24, 1984, the Commission issued its opinion to Cowie and sent a copy to Cowie's counsel, Thomas L. Wenger, Esquire, who has represented Cowie throughout these proceedings. The Commission's opinion was that group health insurance for supervisors provided by the township would violate Section 3(a) of the Act, 65 P.S. § 403(a), providing that public officers shall not obtain financial gain other than compensation provided by law.

Cowie filed a petition for reconsideration with the Commission on June 4, 1984. On June 8, 1984, PSATS, by Mr. Wenger, filed a petition for (1) intervention in the proceedings of PSATS and (2) for reconsideration of the Commission's opinion rendered in the Cowie case.

The Commission sent Cowie notice that his petition for reconsideration would be considered on July 31, 1984. On that date Mr. Wenger appeared. The Commission was prepared to hear argument on Cowie's petition for reconsideration and on PSATS's petition. Mr. Wenger said he was not prepared to proceed on PSATS's application because he had not received notice that PSATS's matters would be heard at that time. The Commission denied the Cowie petition for reconsideration and continued the matters of PSATS's application for intervention and reconsideration of the Cowie opinion.

The Commission then sent notice to Mr. Wenger that the matter of PSATS's petition for reconsideration of the Cowie ...


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