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PSU filed incorrect financial info to state

Plus: Former Pa. govs petition to allow independents to vote in partisan primaries

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This is Talk of the Town, a free weekly newsletter delivering top news from State College and the surrounding region.

September 21, 2023
👋 Hey McKean County readers! The Spotlight PA State College team will be in Kane on Sept. 29! Drop by Root Bar (63 N. Fraley St.) between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to chat with us about what local issues are important to you. Coffee is our treat! 
Inside this edition: Penn State filing errors underscore lax conflict of interest policies, Pa. Democrats take back narrow state House majority, and the state attorney general settles a security deposit case in State College.

Real quick: Penn State University reported false financial information to the Pennsylvania Department of Education last winter, errors that remained public for months and highlight longstanding problems with how the school discloses and handles conflicts of interest.

A little more: The university acknowledged the incorrect filings following a Spotlight PA review of Penn State trustees’ business connections, the trustees’ annual conflict of interest disclosure, and reports the university is required to submit to the state when it receives taxpayer funds from the legislature.

In an email to Spotlight PA, a university spokesperson wrote that the December 2022 report contained “inaccurate information.” A spokesperson later told Spotlight PA the error was caused by the university including 2020 financial data in its 2022 filing.

An analysis of the filings and other university documents also revealed that at least 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.

Penn State defended the trustee’s lack of disclosure, arguing the trustee was not aware of the transactions and was therefore not in violation of the university’s policy.

The university expects conflicts of interest with trustees because they have business ties, a spokesperson wrote in an email. The school’s approach in such instances, the spokesperson said, is determining “not how to eliminate conflicts, but rather, how conflicts should be appropriately disclosed.”

Read the full story here.

Wyatt Massey, investigative reporter

“The revolving door makes officials think not about their current job, but their next job which will pay significantly better and remove them from public scrutiny.”

— Good-government advocate Michael Pollack on public officials and employees going on to work as lobbyists
Support Spotlight PA's vital investigative journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED!
» Pa. Democrats secure one-vote margin in state House

» Bipartisan bill targets 'revolving door' of lobbyists in Pa.

» 5 former Pa. govs publish letter in support of open primaries

» Pa. will prompt driver’s license recipients to register to vote


» 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 now 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
Daniel Fishel / For Spotlight PA
» Guide to the candidates for state Supreme Court
» Guide to the candidates for Commonwealth and Superior Courts
» Guide to the judicial retention questions on the November ballot
A bee getting nourishment from a sedum in State College via Gregory P.

Want to be featured here? Send your best local pics to talkofthetown@spotlightpa.org.
» NCPA: Holes cut in Sunbury fur farm fence result in 8000 escaped minks
» AM: Altoona, Blair commerce officials seek feedback on merger talks
» WSG: Williamsport approves internet service for park surveillance cams
» SC.COM: Pa. AG settles State College security deposit case
» WPSU: Parks dept. funds snowmobile, ATV trails in north-central Pa.
Support Spotlight PA's vital investigative journalism and for a limited time, your gift will be DOUBLED.
Want us to list your event? Send it to us.

» Sept. 21-24: The Central Pennsylvania Ragtime & American Music Festival offers four days of music, steam train rides, and more in Huntingdon.

» Sept. 22: Tussey Mountain in Centre County hosts its OktoberFest with polka music, German beers and fare, and games.

» Sept. 23: Hayrides, apple cider, and local craft vendors highlight the Flavors of Fall event in Ridgway, Elk County.

» Sept. 23: Make your voice heard at Constitution Day in State College.

» Sept. 23: Experience demonstrations and hands-on activities at the Hometown Science Festival in Wellsboro, Tioga County.

» Sept. 24: Allegheny National Forest celebrates its 100th birthday at historic Twin Lakes Recreation Area in Elk County.
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Do you have events, community shoutouts, questions about our region, or tips on stories that we should pursue? Email our team.
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