Allentown Morning Call: U.S. Sen Candidate And State Rep. Rick Saccone Eats His Gift Ban Words

* In the halls of the Pennsylvania Capitol and on the campaign trail as a U.S. Senate candidate, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone touts himself as an ethical outsider who wants to rid government of special interests. 

* Saccone routinely eats breakfasts, lunches, appetizers and dinners that lobbyists pay for in Harrisburg. And, Saccone rarely dines alone. He brings his wife, Yong, to the free meals. In fact, Yong Saccone accompanies her husband so often in Harrisburg and on the campaign trail, House Republicans jokingly refer to her as a defacto lawmaker. 

* In an interview, Saccone admitted the lobbyist-paid meal stories are true, but he said he’s not a hypocrite. He said he is a victim of the system 


Allentown Morning Call: U.S. Sen candidate and state Rep. Rick Saccone eats his gift ban words

By Steve Esack

In the halls of the Pennsylvania Capitol and on the campaign trail as a U.S. Senate candidate, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone touts himself as an ethical outsider who wants to rid government of special interests.

As alleged proof of his piety, Saccone often urges his fellow lawmakers to approve his House Bill 39. It forbids public officials and public employees from accepting “transportation, lodging or hospitality or anything of economic value as a gift” from a person or entity seeking government business.

“I have at least 20 lobbyist groups that have never taken me out for anything,” Saccone said in a May interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Philadelphia Inquirer. “They come to my office, they make their pitch and they go away. And that is how it should be.”

But in championing the bill, Saccone never mentions his own appetite for fine dining on the tab of others.

Saccone routinely eats breakfasts, lunches, appetizers and dinners that lobbyists pay for in Harrisburg. And, Saccone rarely dines alone. He brings his wife, Yong, to the free meals. In fact, Yong Saccone accompanies her husband so often in Harrisburg and on the campaign trail, House Republicans jokingly refer to her as a defacto lawmaker.

In an interview, Saccone admitted the lobbyist-paid meal stories are true, but he said he’s not a hypocrite. He said he is a victim of the system and he can’t change it alone by shunning meals. He said he and his wife dine with lobbyists because other lawmakers do. If he didn’t eat with others, Saccone reasons, he would isolate himself.

“You can say I can be a martyr just by doing it myself but that doesn’t change the system,” said Saccone, first elected in 2011 and now a 2018 candidate for U.S. Senate. “I am not going to be separated from my committee colleagues and if we are going to do it, I take part in it. You know how everything in the Capitol is done on relationships.”

Saccone’s bill is stalled in the House State Government Committee, one of four committees on which he serves.

Others Republicans running for Senate are Rep. Jim Christiana, R-Beaver, and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, D-11th. The winner takes on incumbent Democrat U.S. Bob Casey.

Read the article here.