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July 29, 2013 | By | Posted in WatchBlog

WATCHBLOG: PA will alllow state attorney’s column about liquor laws

By Melissa Daniels | PA Independent

HARRISBURG — A Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board employee is allowed to write about the state’s liquor laws, the Office of Administration says.

Alan Kennedy-Schaffer, an attorney with the PLCB and a Harrisburg-area community activist, sought approval to write a column for The Legal Intelligencer about state liquor laws. The PLCB in June denied his request, citing a conflict of interest.

ALAN KENNEDY-SHAFFER: The Harrisburg-based attorney was told he could not write about liquor laws for The Legal Intelligencer, but the Office of Administration has approved his request.

Kennedy-Shaffer appealed the decision, and Secretary of Administration Kelly Powell-Logan announced approval in a letter July 25, along with a list of 12 conditions.

The PLCB must review and sign off on the columns before submission, per the administration’s approval. Kennedy-Shaffer must make it clear his opinions do not represent those of his agency. He also has to expressly work on the column in his free time  without commonwealth resources.

Kennedy-Shaffer said the decision was a victory for transparency, and he will comply with the conditions.

“All Americans, including Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board  attorneys, have the right to express their personal views on matters of public concern in their spare time, in their personal capacity outside of the work place,” he said.

But the Office of Administration delineated between Kennedy-Shaffer’s role as a lawyer for the commonwealth and what’s fair game to publicize. The office is concerned Kennedy-Shaffer’s role as a lawyer could create “actual or perceived conflicts” and pointed out specific guidelines to follow.

“Consequently, you  must be particularly vigilant to avoid all conflicts with the obligations of your public employment and your duties as an attorney,” the letter reads, “including strict adherence to the letter and spirit of the Pennsylvania Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys issued by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, as well as the Governor’s Code of Conduct.”

Kennedy-Shaffer said he hopes to write about the history of Pennsylvania’s liquor laws, a subject of high interest as the state debates whether to privatize or modernize its laws to allow the sale of wine and beer in places other than state-controlled stores.

Contact Melissa Daniels at melissa@paindependent.com

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Melissa Daniels is a reporter for PA Independent. She can be reached at 717-350-0962 or Melissa@PAIndependent.com

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