Joe Conti is a leaving, breathing case study of what’s wrong with Pennsylvania government. He was elected to the House in 1993 and promoted to the Senate in 1997. Conti was one of 41 senators who voted for the pension pay spike in 2001.
Mr. Conti voted for and accepted a pay raise in 2005. Rather than face the voters, he resigned in 2006 and was appointed by Governor Rendell to fill a chair that sat empty at the Liquor Control Board (LCB) for 20 years for $150,000. His salary at the end of his tenure in 2012 was $156,000 (twice as much as what he made as a senator).
Recently,the LCB hired Mr. Conti an a “emergency employee” for $80.16 an hour until they could find a sutibale replacement. Mr. Conti will be eligbile to collect his pension even as he serves as an “emergency employee.”
Back in 2005, Mr. Conti accepted “unvouchered expenses, but said he wasn’t sure how much he collected. Conti estimated the amount to be between $3,000 and $5,000. Shortly after the vote to rescind the raises on November 16, 2005, newspapers quoted “the Republican from Doylestown as saying that he did not intend to pay the money back because he spent it on a new water heater.” (The Morning Call, November 28, 2005.)
Senator Conti declared, ”I’m not giving it back. I believe in it.” Conti declared that the only way he would return the expense payments would be if ”the [Pennsylvania state] treasurer came to pick up the new hot-water heater” that he purchased for his home. Political activists Eric Epstein and Gene Stilp offered to pick up and remove the hot-water heater. Senator Conti reversed course (Philadelphia Inquirer, December 1, 2005), and repaid $10,893.96 over 11 months. (Chief Clerk Senate)
Among Mr. Conti’s notable accomplishments as CEO of the Liquor Control Board included the approval of a $173,000 contract to Solutions 21 to train LCB employees to be polite (2009), a $142,000 media buy to get mom snookered on Mother’s Day, (2010), and the failure of wine kiosks in grocery stores as the vendor, Simple Brand, defaulted on a $1 million dollar payment in September, 2011.
Mr. Conti and two other LCB executives are currently the target of an ethics’ investigation relating to gifts they received from vendors based on report released by the Inspector General’s Office in March, 2012. Mr. Conti is also alleged to have pressured contractors to provide jobs to his brother and daughter.
Is this a great state or what?
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