You know, I have to tell you, in a way I am backpedaling on the Mayor’s ethical breach in attending the Lemieux tournament. I see no logical way to see how he benefited excessively from his attendance at the charity tournament. He clearly did not pay, but he did get admittance to a private event. Whether the particular 27,000/9,000 was paid for by UPMC corporate funds or an individual’s money, the value of the donation is likely to be accounted for in tax terms as either evidence of UPMC’s corporate charity or on someone’s tax return. So the lion’s share of the value of the charity event, the tax write off, is denied to the Mayor. The Mayor got to meet celebrities (again), and was fed and got to play golf. I don’t know what the value of that is, but the Lemieux charity people could tell us, since this event is going to show up on people’s tax returns and they need to get it right. The tournament organizers almost undoubtedly have a fully prepared tax document to submit along with attendees tax returns. That’s who the ethics committee should be talking to.
I guess the city’s law department would argue that the non-donation value of the golf outing is covered by the value to the city of maintaining or enhancing the profile of the Mayor with wealthy Pittsburghers and other wealthy people. Maybe there is something to that, I would want to see a reasoned argument on it (so far there have only been a few sound bites in the media). Similarly, I wonder if the exemption for charity in the code assumes the Mayor is being “comped” into the charitable event, or precisely because the tax value of the Mayor’s admission was used by someone else. They may be history on the code, or someone could research past elected officials behavior (hint: avoid Sharpe James).
Yeah, the Mayor’s attendance at the event was kind of insulting because average Pittsburghers are not welcome there, and especially since it was on the day of the Council’s hearing on suspect police promotions. But it probably does not make it to the level of corruption (see Sharpe James), merely (once again) bad judgment. That the city or state ethics board can make something of this one event seems unlikely to me. But as a pattern of casual ethical behavior, well, someone needs to talk to Luke “Cheney” Ravenstahl, before he does implode.