BELLE VERNON – As Pennsylvania, the nation and world grapple with COVID-19, other things still happen. Noting it is national Sunshine Week, Rep. Bud Cook (R-Washington/Fayette) announced today that he will release years of disclosed information involving the Local Share Account (LSA) process in Washington County. This information will include correspondence, Right to Know (RTK) requests, materials obtained from RTK requests and correspondence with other state agencies for assistance. Cook is still awaiting RTK information from his recent request, which was appealed by the agency, but reversed by the state Office of Open Records.
National Sunshine Week is an initiative to educate the public about the importance of open government and the dangers of excessive and unnecessary secrecy.
“Even as we deal with world health events, it’s important that the general public knows what is going on here,” said Cook. “For three years, we have been working to ensure that the LSA grant process is fair and accountable in Washington County. After digging deeper, we have found that this current LSA grant process is raising many red flags and is anything but fair and transparent. I am releasing all the information I have obtained so that the public can see firsthand how corrupt this current process really is.”
Cook has released the obtained disclosed information and has posted it here
“We will continue to fight to ensure that this process is fair, transparent and accountable,” continued Cook. “We will continue to post more information as we find it.”
Some of the highlights discovered by Cook include:
· Over the last 11 years, the LSA Review Committee awarded more than $100 million.
· In a letter from Redevelopment Authority of Washington County, they acknowledged they did not take or have meeting minutes or financial disclosures available.
· The Redevelopment Authority of Washington County chairman did recuse in possible conflicts; his organizations received eight grants over the last 11 years in the amounts of $150,000 to $200,000. Additionally, the chairman also serves as the executive director of the Washington County Chamber of Commerce. The grants passed through the county Chamber of Commerce to the Washington County Travel and Tourism Promotion Agency, a partner of the Chamber that is not subject to RTK.
· The Observer-Reporter receives approximately $6,000 per quarter from an LSA grant – possibly explaining the lack of media reporting?
Representative Bud Cook
49th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives