Coy resigns, is named to Pa. Gaming Control Board

August 31, 2004|by DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - The announcement last week that state Rep. Jeff Coy, D-89th, is resigning Thursday to take a seat on the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will have no effect on the campaigns of the Republican and Democratic nominees, the candidates said Monday.

Republicans in Harrisburg, Pa., however, contend Coy will not be eligible to fill one of the seven board seats until Dec. 1.

"While Jeff Coy is chairman of my campaign and has endorsed me, this race has all been about the background and leadership abilities I have compared to my opponent," said Doug Harbach, the Democratic nominee for the 89th District.


"This doesn't change the dynamics of the campaign at all," said Republican nominee Rob Kauffman. "I'm still going to work as hard and address the same issues," he said.

House Democratic Leader H. William DeWeese last week named Coy to the $145,000-a-year position on the board. DeWeese stated Coy's appointment will become effective Friday, the day after his resignation from the House seat to which he was first elected in 1982.

Coy announced in February he would not seek a 12th term in the House. State legislators in both chambers are paid $66,203 a year, according to the Pennsylvania Senate Chief Clerk's Office.

"It makes perfect sense to appoint a lawmaker who fought so hard to get property tax relief approved ... to the board that will oversee the industry that will deliver $1 billion in property tax reductions to homeowners across Pennsylvania," DeWeese said in the statement.

Coy did not return a call for comment.

The board will be composed of three members selected by Gov. Ed Rendell and one each by the majority and minority caucuses of the House and Senate, according to the announcement. Legislative appointments are for two years, it stated.

Of the four state representatives and one state senator serving Franklin County, Coy is the only Democrat and the only one to vote for the slots bill, according to voting records.

Kauffman and Harbach both said they would have voted against legalizing slot machines.

"I have been an opponent of gambling and I made that well-known in my campaign," Kauffman said.

"I have never been in favor of the slots legislation ... I just did not feel gambling had a place in Pennsylvania," Harbach said.

Although he and Coy have opposing positions on the slots, Harbach said it is now state law and "I can't think of a better, more honest person to look after our interests."

Senate Republicans, however, are questioning whether Coy can take his seat on the board. Steve MacNett, general counsel to the Senate Majority, on Monday cited a provision in the state constitution that he said, "prohibits the appointment of a legislator during his term in office to a compensated civil office."

"Resignation from the General Assembly doesn't make someone eligible for a position until their term expires," according to MacNett. The end of legislators' terms is Nov. 30, he said.

"We believe that when he (Coy) resigns, his term is up," said Tom Andrews, DeWeese's press secretary. "If they feel they need to challenge this appointment ... we feel that's a delay in implementing tax relief, which is what the gaming law was meant to do," he said.

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