The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review recently reported that LCB officials insisted the newspaper go through the state’s Right-to-Know process (RTK) for information that was already clearly a matter of public record. Reporter Kari Andren asked the LCB’s press secretary for basic information regarding a former employee but board members directed the press office not to release the information unless Andren filed a formal request with the state’s Right-to-Know office.
“We have to watch what we ‘give' her regarding employees without going through the Right to Know channels, even if it is public information,” board member Michael Negra wrote in a Sept. 23 email. “Agree,” Chairman Tim Holden responded the same day.
When the same reporter asked for a financial breakdown of how much the agency paid top alcohol vendors for various products, board member Joseph “Skip” Brion again directed the press secretary to tell the reporter to file a formal Right to Know request, giving the agency up to 35 days to decide whether to release the data.
“She can get it by RTK,” Brion wrote in a Sept. 24 email.
“I agree,” Negra responded. “Make her go thru the system.”
“I agree,” Holden replied.
The Tribune-Review also found that former LCB officials, who ran afoul of state ethics rules by accepting travel and gifts from vendors, are now recurring visitors at the LCB as lobbyists or employees working for the very same industry they once regulated.
The revelation has prompted complaints of a revolving door between state government and the industries it's charged with overseeing.
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