ISSUE | ETHICS

Gifts come with a cost

The late Gov. Bob Casey had a rule: No gifts could be taken by staff. Period.

This bright line seemed rigid, but it made life simpler and avoided any appearance of impropriety.

Once you allow officials to accept even modest gifts, it can be a slippery slope to more serious gifts and conflicts ("How D.A. nabbed Eagles passes," Sunday).

It is easy for public officials, most working hard and foregoing private-sector income, to feel entitled to perks. Casey's firm message was: You're not entitled, nor more important than the public, whose trust in government is critical.

It is shocking how many officials forget this tenet. Many are lawyers, bound by the legal canon to not only avoid conflicts, but the appearance of any conflict. It is no less applicable to politics.

Our local political community's all-too-frequent laissez-faire attitude about avoiding conflicts has sadly contributed to the undermining of the public's confidence in our political system.

|Dan Wofford, former special assistant

to Gov. Bob Casey, Malvern, dwofford@comcast.net