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Lackawanna County commissioners officially adopt new ethics policy

Aimee Dilger
Lackawanna County Government Center

Lackawanna County passed its first ethics policy in 2008, but County Commissioner Bill Gaughan said times have changed.

Gaughan said the new policy is the county’s most extensive ever.
“So we needed to add in a lot of things like nepotism, (an) employee fraternization policy, limiting gifts to county officials and personnel, regulating outside employment, tightening the rules on vendors and bidders,” Gaughan said.

Companies that the commissioners or their family members control can’t do business with the county.

But county employees or their families can seek county business in limited circumstances. They can only if the contract:

  • Won’t interfere with duties.
  • If the employee had nothing to do with writing the contract requirements.
  • And if the employee has nothing to do with overseeing the contract.

Generally, anybody serving on a county-related board appointed by the commissioners can do business with the county.
But, for example, a stadium authority board member can’t seek a contract with the stadium authority and needs the county’s top lawyer to sign off on contracts with the county.

The policy also limits gifts to no more than $50 in value and prevents former employees from lobbying the county for two years.

Gaughan said no specific ethical breaches prompted the policy. But he and fellow Commissioner Matt McGloin pledged an ethical administration and looked at what other counties do.

“And this is the same thing I did when I was on council, I said, look at other cities, and let's kind of mesh these together, see who has the most comprehensive language. And that's what we did,” Gaughan said.

Borys joins WVIA News from The Scranton Times-Tribune, where he served as an investigative reporter and covered a wide range of political stories. His work has been recognized with numerous national and state journalism awards from the Inland Press Association, Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors, Society of Professional Journalists and Pennsylvania Newsmedia Association.

You can email Borys at boryskrawczeniuk@wvia.org