Rendell Agrees to Ethics Probe of Grants

Article excerpt

Senate Republican leaders Wednesday pushed Gov. Ed Rendell into seeking an Ethics Commission opinion on $4.4 million in state grants awarded to groups employing the spouses of two Cabinet members.

The Senate insisted on the opinion before it votes on confirming Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Kathleen McGinty and Department of Conservation and Natural Resources Secretary Michael DiBerardinis to second terms.

"We owe it to the public to ensure that these grants were ethical -- proper," Senate Majority Whip Jane Orie, R-McCandless, said.

The spouses of McGinty and DiBerardinis worked for groups that received grants from the two state agencies.

Late yesterday, after earlier balking at the Senate's request, Rendell reversed course and agreed to seek an Ethics Commission opinion. Rendell "is absolutely 100 percent assured there is no ethical lapse here," said his spokesman, Chuck Ardo.

McGinty, a former top official in the Clinton administration, is "one of the stars on Rendell's staff" -- the driving force behind Rendell's alternative energy programs, said Christopher Borick, a political science professor at Muhlenberg College in Allentown.

Orie said the Senate was prepared to vote down the reappointments in the absence of an ethics ruling. Senate leaders wrote to Rendell yesterday -- the last day for the Senate to act on the nominations - - asking him to "recall" the nominations and immediately resubmit them as new nominations. …