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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

PNC ethics code questions

I’ve got a couple of questions for Luzerne County Controller candidate Bob Morgan, who happens to be employed by PNC Bank as a financial advisor.

From the PNC Ethics Code:

Political Involvement

Each of us has the right to voluntarily participate in the political process.However, due to complex requirements that vary from state to state and thatmay differ depending on local jurisdiction, there are specific guidelines forpre-approval before contributions may be made and before a decision is madeto campaign for or accept public office.

Holding or Campaigning for Political /Public Office

Campaigning, holding a public office, or running for re-election requiresprior approval from the Corporate Ethics Office. This is necessary because of the complexity of relevant laws and regulations. For example, occupying agovernmental position (whether elected or not), may trigger conflict of interest laws, which in some jurisdictions may prohibit PNC from engaging in business with that jurisdiction.

In all cases, when a PNC employee campaigns for or seeks appointment toa public office or serves as a member of a candidate’s political campaigncommittee, an employee does so as an individual and not at the request of or as a representative of PNC.

Here’s the first question. Since PNC Bank currently holds title to bonds floated by Luzerne County, how is it not a conflict of interest to have the Luzerne County controller also working at said bank? And with the county bleeding red ink like the recent user of a bomb vest, would the county also not be on the market soon for even more bonds?

In addition, since, as controller, Morgan would also be seated on the Retirement Board, would he then have to recuse himself whenever decisions needed to be made about how and where to best invest?

Here’s another excerpt from the PNC Ethics Code:

Outside EmploymentOther Employment, including self-employment, generally is permitted and doesnot require prior approval from the Corporate Ethics Office provided that the Other Employment does not:

*Interfere with your PNC job responsibilities or schedule.
*Create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
*Result in competition with any of PNC’s business activities, including offering similar products or services.
*Involve using PNC property or using the time of other PNC employees during working hours.
*Involve actively soliciting PNC customers or PNC employees while working at PNC.
*Involve preparation, audit, or certification of documents pertaining to PNC business.

Since Mr. Morgan is already on the record as saying, again, if elected, he would not resign from his position at PNC, being a full-time controller would obviously interfere with his PNC job responsibilities or schedule.

So, if elected, the possibility for multiple conflicts of interest with PNC’s ethics codes exist. If elected and still an employee of PNC, he would not be a full-time controller available during what could only be called normal business hours. And as all of this pertains to the retirement board, he would be limited if not completely eviserated in that capacity.

So, with all of that said, why is he running for controller?

Is the fix in? Is the persistent rumor true?

If Morgan manages to overcome the election night challenge from Walter Griffith, he then appoints a deputy controller from the ranks of the longtime party loyalists and then quickly resigns from the controller position, in effect, picking the next controller of Luzerne County? Is the rumor true? Is it Wil? Is it Frank?

What’s afoot here? More back room deals? More dirty politics?

V’ger needs to know.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It has been a very very long time since I read your blog.... and can I ask you.........seriously?... are you crazy?... I don't know Bob personally, and I may or may not vote for him on election day... but I was at the debate this past monday (I may have been the only non walter griffith plant in the audience), and I will say he gave a very clear answer on this issue... In fact, it doesn't take a brilliant person to realize the work he does has nothing to do with what you mentioned... The man handles peoples money as an INVESTOR... As I said, I may or may not vote for him... maybe Will Toole, but it is incredibly clear to me that you just took this talking point from Walter Griffith... If you were at the debate you would have realize how lame this is and removed this post from your usually enjoyable blog... Either Bob.. Or Wil... But no chance of Griffth and his nonsense...

P.S. He actually said you don't need to know about finance to be controller.... Why not write about that?