The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

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May 29, 2014

Hanger: Gifts to gov pay off for Moran biz

HARRISBURG — Gov. Tom Corbett traveled to South America in April 2013 and the Team PA Foundation picked up the $13,000 tab, according to disclosures filed by Corbett’s office with the state Ethics Commission.

A year earlier, Corbett went to Europe — at a cost of $10,000 — on the Team PA Foundation’s dime, according to the documents. The governor is co-chairman of the foundation, a public-private partnership focused on economic development.

John Hanger, a former Democratic candidate for governor, said Thursday the donations illustrate a close connection between Corbett and John Moran, the Watsontown businessman and the other chairman of Team PA Foundation’s board.

Hanger, who dropped out of the race and then threw his support behind eventual Democratic nominee Tom Wolf, said during a press conference that the Corbett-Moran tie suggests preferential treatment of Moran’s waste-hauling company by the state.

Jay Pagni, Corbett’s spokesman, refused to directly respond to the allegations but acknowledged that Moran and Corbett are friends.

“Mr. Moran has a long-standing interest in public service,” Pagni said. “His involvement with Team PA is for the betterment of Pennsylvania.”

Hanger — the Department of Environmental Protection secretary under Corbett’s predecessor, former Democrat Gov. Ed Rendell — said he was notified during his tenure that Moran’s company, Moran Industries, wanted to haul waste from the Marcellus Shale region by train to Ohio.

Hanger ordered the hauling delayed until his agency could conduct a review.

Hanger said Thursday his order was repealed as soon as Corbett took office.

“The day before Corbett’s inauguration, the trains started to move,” he said.

Moran had directly contributed to Corbett: In 2011, six months after Corbett took office, he covered the $1,422 cost of a yachting trip for the new governor in Rhode Island, according to documents filed with the Ethics Commission.

That was in addition to $141,000 in donations made by Moran to Corbett’s campaign, Hanger said.

Dan Spadoni, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection, said the agency’s review of the proposed hauling determined that federal law bound the state from interfering in Moran’s efforts.

Moran Industries owned a site in Sunbury where the material was being transferred from truck to train. The rail shipments were handled by Norfolk-Southern, which was exempted by the Clean Railroad Act of 2008 from needing a state permit to haul the material, Spadoni said.

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