Gaming board appointment disputed
Foes say a sitting legislator can't be appointed to a civil office.
HARRISBURG -- The chief counsel to the Pennylvania Senate's Republicans said Friday that the appointment of a sitting Democratic legislator to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board was legally dubious and could expose the board's decisions to court challenges.
State Rep. Jeffrey W. Coy, D-Cumberland, was named to the seven-member panel Thursday, and the appointment will take effect Friday, one day after the 11-term lawmaker expects to resign.
But Stephen MacNett, lawyer for the Senate GOP, said the state constitution prevents Coy from being appointed before his term expires at the end of November.
"It seems to me that every action that's taken, every last action that's taken by the gaming board during this time period, is going to be subject to collateral attack in court," MacNett said.
MacNett said a 1953 opinion by the state attorney general determined that members of the General Assembly can't be appointed to civil offices within state government before the term for which they are elected is over. Resigning ahead of time makes no difference, he said.
Coy, however, said he believes resignation ends his term.
"The bottom line is, when I resign next week, I will not be paid, I will not be able to vote in the House of Representatives, I will not be getting any benefits. My term is over. We believe that really satisfies any provision to the contrary," Coy said.
Coy's is not the only nomination under attack by Senate Republicans. Two of them sent a letter Thursday to Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell threatening the prospect of legislative hearings into the business activities of the governor's appointee to chair the gaming board.
Sen. Gibson E. Armstrong, R-Lancaster, and Sen. Jeffrey E. Piccola, R-Dauphin, said former Philadelphia police officer Frank Friel's work as a private investigator on behalf of a man with reputed links to organized crime "calls into question his capacity to scrutinize applicants for gaming licenses."
Rendell spokeswoman Kate Philips said Friel has Rendell's support and attributed the attack to "the politics of anti-gaming. It appears this is part of the race to slow down the progress of legalized gaming in Pennsylvania."
Five members of the seven-person board have been chosen. The two remaining positions will be filled by Rendell and Senate President Pro Tempore Robert Jubelirer, R-Blair.
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