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Penn State admits incorrect financial filings

Plus, push for earlier Pa. primary progresses.

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Friday, September 22, 2023
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Data errors, attack ads, closer date, McCormick bid, environmental disputes, and vaccine questions. Help us continue this vital work by supporting Spotlight PA & your gift will be DOUBLED.
Penn State reported incorrect financial information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education last winter, highlighting longstanding problems with how the school discloses and handles conflicts of interest, Spotlight PA found.

The university admitted to the error following a Spotlight PA review of the Penn State trustees’ business connections, the trustees’ annual conflict of interest disclosures, and reports that the university is required to submit to the state when it receives taxpayer funds from the legislature.
Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Review of Penn State contracts reveals incorrect filings, questions about trustee disclosures.

THE CONTEXT: One trustee did not disclose more than $250,000 in income to a related business over three years on university-mandated conflict of interest forms. The university said the trustee wasn't aware of the transactions.

But warnings have been sounded for years about the board of trustees’ conflict policy, which former Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, in a 2017 report, said makes it easy to “avoid accountability.”

The conflict disclosure document is one of the few ways the public can understand the inner workings of Penn State, which is largely exempt from Pennsylvania’s open records law.
“We don’t want to let AI happen to us. We want to be part of helping develop AI for the betterment of our citizens.”
Gov. Josh Shapiro on artificial intelligence as he prepares to begin using the technology in Pennsylvania’s state government operations
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At Spotlight PA, we put voters front and center in our nonpartisan election coverage. Get all the information you need to make an informed vote this September by visiting our Election Center website

» Complete guide to the candidates for Pennsylvania Supreme Court

» Complete guide to the candidates for Commonwealth, Superior Courts

» What to know about the judicial retention questions on Pa. ballots

» Una guía de los candidatos a la Corte Suprema del estado

» Una guía de los candidatos a la Commonwealth y las Cortes Superiores

» Support Spotlight PA's vital, nonpartisan election reporting by making a gift now and for a limited time, it will be DOUBLED — 2X the impact!
» STORY FEST: Spotlight PA is participating in Philly Story Fest, a first-of-its-kind festival that brings together storytellers from across the city on one stage. Join us Thursday, Oct. 5 from 7-10 p.m. at the Bok building in South Philadelphia (1901 South 9th St.). Tickets are $25 and available here.

» PATH TO EQUITY: Join Spotlight PA for its first in-person summit on Wednesday, Oct. 11, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Whitaker Center in Harrisburg. Spotlight PA is co-presenting this event with Color & Culture, a Pennsylvania marketing firm. Tickets are on sale at this link until sold out.

» ELECTION 101: Join Spotlight PA’s government reporters Kate Huangpu and Stephen Caruso on Thursday, Oct. 12 from 6-7 p.m. ET on Zoom for a free panel on Pa.’s 2023 judicial candidates. Register for the event here and submit your questions to events@spotlightpa.org
Marsh Creek Lake in Chester County, via Don N. Send us your photos by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
a large body water with trees in the far back
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.CAMPAIGN CRITICISM: A Planned Parenthood ad campaign focuses on GOP state Supreme Court candidate Carolyn Carluccio’s views on reproductive rights and endorsements from anti-abortion groups, via Capital-Star. The campaign notes Carluccio deleted her views on abortion from her website. The campaign said the site was redesigned and a promise to “defend all life under the law” left off the new version.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.PRIMARY DATE: A bill moving up Pennsylvania's presidential primary has been approved in the state Senate and is headed to the state House, AP reports. The bill moves the date from April 23 to March 19, giving Pennsylvania voters a bigger role in choosing nominees and avoiding a 2024 scheduling conflict with Passover that threatens to sideline Jewish voters, poll workers, and election officials.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.2024 BID: Republican David McCormick is running for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania, again. McCormick officially launched his latest campaign in Pittsburgh on Thursday. He’s trying to unseat Democratic incumbent Bob Casey in a closely watched race. McCormick has support from state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) and Sean Parnell, who tweeted that “the party is unified” and “laser focused on winning.” 

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.
DIFFERING SIDES: The two nominees for Allegheny County executive have different stances on environmental issues, all as the area continues to have some of the worst air quality in the country. Democrat Sara Innamorato and Republican Joe Rockey disagree on fracking, hydrogen hubs, industry, and even what’s causing the county’s bad air. PublicSource breaks down their stances and what they’d do if elected.
Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.COVID CONCERNS: A Pitt survey of nearly 400 Black Allegheny County residents found those who have not received the COVID-19 vaccine still have doubts. WESA reports their top reasons involved fear of side effects and illness. Lead author Ashley Hill said the results emphasize the need to listen to and address residents’ concerns. Black Americans are more likely to become severely ill or die from COVID-19.
  • RELATED: A new COVID-19 booster is here. Will those at greatest risk get it?, via KFF Health News
Join Spotlight PA for an exclusive event on equity and voting. Get your tickets now.
🏆 SMART STUFF: Did you stay on top of Pennsylvania news this week? Prove it with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: State House control, dropped dress code, and farm animals on the loose.
COVERAGE AREA: Spotlight PA is exploring the possibility of a new regional bureau dedicated to Reading and Berks County. We’re engaging community partners now. Residents can sign up for updates on the project here.

RACISM INVESTIGATION: Allentown’s City Council wants an investigation into allegations of racism in City Hall, but one member says the city’s legal department is trying to interfere, via Morning Call (paywall). 

STAFF EXODUS: Former York County employees are speaking out about a high-level staff exodus and blaming a toxic work environment under President Commissioner Julie Wheeler, the Dispatch (paywall) reports.

BIG FISH: To celebrate its 111th anniversary, Pittsburgh’s Wholey’s Fish Market is creating a massive 111-pound fish sandwich tomorrow. Pittsburgh Magazine reports the spectacle starts at 11 a.m. 

‘TWIN-DERGARTEN’: A school district in Montgomery County welcomed a whopping 17 sets of twins into kindergarten. UPI has the adorable video.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.
Yesterday's answer: Terrestrial 
Congrats to our daily winners: Elaine C., Stacy S., Jane R., Don H., Richard A., Barbara F., Doug W., David T., Hallie W., Eric F., Carol S., Bob C., Susan N., James B., Dennis M., Judith D., Kim C., Daniel S., Susan D., Geoff M., Kimberly D., Tom M., Craig E., Dan A., William Z., Wendy A., Joel S., Jon W., and Eddy Z.
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