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1748 SkinnerPHONE: 717 -783 -1610 TOLL FREE: 1 -600- 932 -0936 In Re: Larry Skinner, Respondent t S STATE ETHICS COMMISSION FINANCE BUILDING 613 NORTH STREET, ROOM 309 HARRISBURG, PA 17120 -0400 File Docket: X -ref: Date Decided: Date Mailed: FACSIMILE: 717- 787 -0806 WEBSITE: www.ethics.pa.gov 18 -033 Order No. 1748 216119 211 3119 Before: Nicholas A. Colafella, Chair Mark R. Corrigan, Vice Chair Roger Nick Melanie DePalma Monique Myatt Galloway Michael A. Schwartz Shelley Y. Simms This is a final adjudication of the State Ethics Commission. Procedurally, the Investigative Division of the State Ethics Commission conducted an investigation regarding possible violation(s) of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act ( "Ethics Act "), 65 Pa.C.S. § 1101 et se ., by the above -named Respondent. At the commencement of its investigation, the lnnvvestigative Division served upon Respondent written notice of the specific allegations. Upon completion of its investigation, the Investigative Division issued and served upon Respondent a Findings Report identified as an "Investigative Complaint." A Stipulation of Findings and a Consent Agreement were subsequently submitted by the parties to the Commission for consideration. The Stipulated Findings are set forth as the Findings in this Order. The Consent Agreement has been approved. I, ALLEGATIONS: That Larry Skinner, a public official /public employee in his capacity as a Member of the Board of Trustees of Cheyney University f the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, violated Sections 1104(a), 1105(a), and 1105�b)(1) of the State Ethics Act (Act 93 of 1998) when he failed to timelly file Statement of inancial Interests forms for the 2013, 2015, and 2017 calendar years; when he subsequently filed backdated Statement of Financial Interests forms for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 to give the impression that forms for those calendar years were timely filed; and when he failed to identify his public position /public office as a Cheyney University Board of Trustees Member upon Statements of Financial Interests filed for the 2013, 2014, and 2016 calendar years. II. FINDINGS: 1. Larry Skinner ( "Skinner ") has served as a Member of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees since his appointment on or about April 20, 2012. a. Skinner was appointed to the Cheyney University Board of Trustees by Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Corbett. 2. Cheyney University is part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education ( "PASSHE "). a. PASSHE was established by statute on July 1, 1983. Skinner, 18 -033 al eT b. PASSHE is comprised of fourteen Pennsylvania universities. C. PASSHE serves approximately 105,000 students and is the largest provider of higher education in the state of Pennsylvania. 3. The Cheyney University Board of Trustees is comprised of eleven Members, including one student. a. Board of Trustees Members are appointed by the Governor. b. The Board of Trustees convenes on a quarterly basis (every three months). C. Board of Trustees Members are not compensated for their service. d. The Board of Trustees is responsible for strategic planning and oversight of the Cheyney University President. 4. Statement of Financial Interests forms are required to be filed annually by all elected and appointed public officials of the Commonwealth. a. The forms are required to be filed by no later than May 1 st of each year that a public official holds public office. b. The Statement of Financial Interests form requires filers to report specified financial information pertaining to the preceding calendar year. 5. The State Ethics Commission annually contracts for the printing of blank Statement of Financial Interests forms. a. Orders for forms are generally placed with the printing company in December of each year. b. The ordered forms are received by the Administrative Division of the State Ethics Commission in December, prior to January 1St of the filing year. C. Forms are then bulk mailed to municipalities, boards, and state agencies within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. 6. Pursuant to the procedure outlined above. Statement of Financial Interests forms were mailed annually to Cheyney University. 7. Statement of Financial Interests forms were mailed to Cheyney University between 2013 and the present as follows: a. For filing year 2013, SEC -1, REV. 01114 forms were mailed to PASSHE universities, including Cheyney University, on oraround December26, 2013. The SEC -1, REV. 01114 forms were to be used in reporting financial interests for the 2013 calendar year. b. For filing year 2014, SEC -1, REV. 01115 forms were mailed to PASSHE universities, including Cheyney University, on or around January 6, 2015. The SEC -1, REV. 01115 forms were to be used in reporting financial interests for the 2014 calendar year. Skinner, 18 -033 a C. For filing year 2015, SEC -1, REV. 01116 forms were mailed to PASSHE universities, including Cheyney University, on or around December 30, 2015. 1. The SEC -1, REV. 01116 forms were to be used in reporting financial interests for the 2015 calendar year. d. For filing year 2016, SEC -1, REV. 01117 forms were mailed to PASSHE universities, including Cheyney University, on or around December 28, 2016. 1. The SEC -1, REV. 01117 forms were to be utilized in reporting financial interests for calendar year 2016. e. For filingg year 2017, SEC -1, REV. 01118 forms were mailed to PASSHE universities, including Cheyney University, on or around December 27, 2017. The SECA , REV. 01118 forms were to be utilized in reporting financial interests for calendar year 2017. 8. Each year that forms are printed, a revision number is listed in the upper left -hand corner of the form. a. Forms printed in 2014 contained an identification number of SEC -1, REV. 01115, while forms printed in 2015, 2016, and 2017 contained identification numbers of SEC -1, REV. 01116; SEC-1, REV. 01117; and SEC -1, REV. 01118, respectively. 9. Cheyney University Executive Associate to the President, Ramona Dixon ( "Dixon "), was responsible for distributing Statement of Financial Interests forms to Cheyney University Board of Trustees Members, including Skinner, each year. a. Dixon would distribute Statement of Financial Interests forms in March of each year electronically via email to each Board Member, including Skinner. b. After receiving the Statement of Financial Interests form, it was each individual Board Member's responsibility to accurately complete the form and file same with the State Ethics Commission. Statement of Financial Interests forms can be mailed or filed electronically online at www.ethics.pa.gov. C. In addition to the original filing made with the State Ethics Commission, copies of Statements of Financial Interests filed by each Board Member are to be filed /maintained at Cheyney University. 10. Skinner, in his capacity as a Cheyney University Board of Trustees Member, is annually required to file a Statement of Financial Interests form by May V, with information pertaining to the prior calendar year. 11. Skinner, as a Cheyney University Board of Trustees Member, each year has been provided with a blank Statement of Financial Interests form for completion. a. Dixon provided Skinner with forms to be completed for calendar years 2013 through 2017. 12. State Ethics Commission records include a Statement of Financial Interests form that Skinner filed for calendar year 2014, with a signature date of February 6, 2015 (0210612015). Skinner, 18 -033 Page 4 a. State Ethics Commission records include a Statement of Financial Interests form that Skinner filed for calendar year 2016, with a signature date of April 27, 2017 (04/2712017). b. These filings confirm Skinner's knowledge of his requirement to annually file a Statement of Financial Interests form as a public official. 13. On June 4, 2018, the State Ethics Commission conducted a Statement of Financial Interests compliance review for Cheyney University Board of Trustees Members. 14. On June 19, 2018, PASSHE was provided with a list by the State Ethics Commission of individual Board of Trustees Members of PASSHE universities who had failed to file Statement of Financial Interests forms. a. The purpose of notifying PASSHE was to gain compliance from individual Board Members who had failed to file Statements of Financial Interests for listed years. 15. Skinner was identified as a Cheyney University Board of Trustees Member who had failed to file Statements of Financial Interests for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017. 16. PASSHE Legal Counsel contacted Cheyney University to notify Dixon that Skinner had failed to file Statements of Financial Interests for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017. a. Counsel contacted Dixon via email on June 21, 2018, to advise her that Skinner had failed to file Statements of Financial Interests with the State Ethics Commission for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017. 17. Dixon emailed Skinner on June 21, 2018, informing him that the State Ethics Commission was missing his Statement of Financial Interests forms for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017. 18. Skinner completed his Statement of Financial Interests forms for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 on June 21, 2018. a. Skinner's Secretary, Roni Ferrel, attached the completed Statements of Financial Interests and submitted them to Dixon electronically via email on June 21, 2018. 19. Dixon submitted Skinner's Statements of Financial Interests for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 to PASSHE via email on June 21, 2018. 20. PASSHE submitted Skinner's Statements of Financial Interests for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 to the State Ethics Commission via email on June 29, 2018. 21. A review by Commission staff of the Statements of Financial Interests for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 provided on or about June 29, 2018, as filed by Skinner in his capacity as a Cheyney University Board of Trustees Member, confirmed that Skinner's forms were backdated as indicated below: Calendar Year Purported Date of Completion SEC Form Used 2013 05/21/2013 SEC -1, REV. 01118 2015 06/02/2015 SEC -1, REV. 01118 2017 06/06/2017 SEC -1, REV. 01118 Skinner, 18 -033 a�5 Skinner's Statement of Financial Interests forms for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 contained dates of execution /completion which were factuallyy impossible, as SEC -1, REV. 01118 forms were not printedldistributed until after December 15, 2017. It was impossible for Skinner to have completed these forms on the dates purported (as signed) as the forms had not yet then been printed and distributed. 22. Skinner provided a sworn statement to a State Ethics Commission Investigator on August 24, 2018. a. Skinner acknowled ed that he was provided with a Statement of Financial Interests form from Myney University each year to file with the State Ethics Commission. b. Skinner was aware of the process for filing a Statement of Financial Interests each year as a Member of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees. C. Skinner confirmed that he backdated his Statement of Financial Interests forms for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 to reflect that the forms were timely filed. Ill. DISCUSSION: As a Member of the Board of Trustees of Cheyney University of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education since approximately April 20, 2012, Respondent Larry Skinner, also referred to herein as "Respondent," "Respondent Skinner," and "Skinner,' has been a public official subject to the provisions of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act ( "Ethics Act "), 65 Pa. C.S. § 1101 et seq. The allegations are that Skinner violated Sections 1104(a), 1105(a), and 1105(b) 1) of the Ethics Act when he failed to timely file Statement of Financial Interests forms fort e 2013, 2015, and 2017 calendar years; when he subsequently filed backdated Statement of Financial Interests forms for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 to give the impression that forms for those calendar years were timely filed; and when he failed to identify his public positionlpublic office as a Member of the Cheyney Universit Board of Trustees upon Statements of Financial Interests filed for the 2013, 2014, and Y016 calendar years. Section 1104(a) of the Ethics Act provides that each public official /public employee must file a Statement of Financial Interests for the preceding calendar year, each year that he holds the position and the year after he leaves it. Section 1105(a) of the Ethics Act provides that the Statement of Financial Interests shall be filed on the form prescribed by this Commission; that all information requested on the form shall be provided to the best of the knowledge, information and belief of the filer; and that the form shall be signed under oath or equivalent affirmation. Section 1105(b of the Ethics Act and its subsections detail the financial disclosure that a person required to file the Statement of Financial Interests form must provide. Section 1105(b)(1) of the Ethics Act requires the filer to disclose on the Statement of Financial Interests his name, address, and public position. As noted above, the parties have submitted a Consent Agreement and Stipulation of Findings. The parties' Stipulated Findings are set forth above as the Findings of this Commission. We shall now summarize the relevant facts as contained therein. Skinner, 18 -033 al e6- Skinner has served as a Member of the Board of Trustees of Cheyney University since approximately April 20, 2012. Cheyney University is part of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education ( "PASSHE "). As a Member of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees, Skinner is required to annually file a Statement of Financial Interests by May 1. Each year this Commission contracts for the printing of blank Statement of Financial Interests forms. Each year the printed forms bear a revision number that enables this Commission to determine when the forms were printed. Each year the Administrative Division of this Commission receives the printed forms from the printer in December, prior to January 1 of the filing year. Forms are then bulk mailed to municipalities, boards, and state agencies within the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Statement of Financial Interests forms were mailed to Cheyney University for each filing year from 2013 through 2017. Ramona Dixon ( "Dixon "), as the Cheyney University Executive Associate to the President, distributed the Statement of Financial Interests forms to each Member of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees, including Skinner, via email. Each Member of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees was responsible for accurately completing the Statement of Financial Interests form and filing it with this Commission. On June 4, 2018, this Commission conducted a compliance review of Statement of Financial Interests forms for Members of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees. The records of this Commission included Statements of Financial Interests filed by Skinnerfor calendar years 2014 and 2016. On June 19, 2018, this Commission provided PASSHE with a list of individuals who had failed to file Statement of Financial Interests forms as Members of the Board of Trustees of a PASSHE university. The list provided to PASSHE identified Skinner as having failed to file Statements of Financial Interests for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 as a Member of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees. On June 21, 2018, legal counsel for PASSHE contacted Dixon via email to notify her that Skinner had failed to file Statements of Financial Interests for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 with this Commission. Dixon emailed Skinner to inform him that this Commission was missing his Statement of Financial Interests forms for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017. Skinner then completed his Statement of Financial Interests forms for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017, and his secretary submitted the completed forms to Dixon via email. On June 29, 2018, PASSHE submitted Skinner's Statements of Financial Interests for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 to this Commission via email. The Statements of Financial Interests were signed with purported dates of completion as follows: (1) calendar year 2013, dated 0512112013; (2) calendar year 2015, dated 06/02/2015; and (3) calendar year 2017, dated 0610612017. The Statement of Financial Interests for each of the aforesaid calendar years was completed using a form with the revision number of SEC -1, REV. 01118. It was impossible for Skinner to have completed the Statement of Financial Interests forms on the dates purported because the SEC -1, REV. 01118 form was not printed and distributed until after December 15, 2017. Skinner backdated his Statement of Financial Interests forms for calendar years 2013, 2015, and 2017 to reflect that the forms were timely filed. Having highlighted the Stipulated Findings and issues before us, we shall now apply the Ethics Act to determine the proper disposition of this case. The parties' Consent Agreement sets forth a proposed resolution of the allegations as follows: 3. The Investigative Division will recommend the following in relation to the above allegations: Skinner, 18 -033 a� That a violation of Section 1104(a) of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1104(a), occurred when Skinner failed to timely file Statement of Financial Interests forms for the 2013, 2015, and 2017 calendar years. That a violation of Section 1105(a) of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act, 66 Pa.C.S. § 1105(a), occurred when Skinner failed to timely file Statement of Financial Interests forms for the 2013, 2015, and 2017 calendar years and subsequently backdated those filings to give the impression that the forms were timely filed. C. That a violation of Section 1105(b)(1) of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1105(b)(1), occurred when Skinner failed to identify phis public position /public office as a Member of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees upon Statements of Financial Interests filed for the 2013, 2014, and 2016 calendar years. Skinner agrees to make payment in the amount of $500.00 in settlement of this matter payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission within thirty (30) days of the issuance of the final adjudication in this matter. In the event he has not already done so, Skinner agrees to file complete and accurate amended Statements of Financial Interests with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, through the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission, for calendar years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 within thirty (30) days of the issuance of the final adjudication in this matter. 6. Skinner agrees to not accept any reimbursement, compensation or other payment from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education representing a full or partial reimbursement of the amount paid in settlement of this matter. 7. The Investigative Division will recommend that the State Ethics Commission take no further action in this matter; and make no specific recommendations to any law enforcement or other authority to take action in this matter. Such, however, does not prohibit the Commission from initiating appropriate enforcement actions in the event of Respondent's failure to comply with this agreement or the Commission's order or cooperating with any other authority who may so choose to review this matter further. Consent Agreement, at 1 -2. In considering the Consent Agreement, we agree with the parties, and we hold, that violation of Section 1104(a) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1104(a), occurred when Skinner, 18 -033 � g Skinner failed to timely file Statement of Financial Interests forms for the 2013, 2015, and 2017 calendar years. We further agree with the parties, and we hold, that a violation of Section 1105(a) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1105(a), occurred when Skinner failed to timely file Statement of Financial Interests forms for the 2013, 2015, and 2017 calendar years and subsequently backdated those filings to give the impression that the forms were timely filed. We accept the recommendation of the parties for a finding of a violation of Section 1105(b)(1) of the Ethics Act. Although there is no indication in the Stipulated Findings that Skinner failed to identify his public position /public office as a Member of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees upon Statements of Financial Interests that he filed for the 2013, 2014, and 2016 calendar years, based upon the Consent Agreement, it would appear that the parties are in agreement that Skinner did in fact fail to do so. Accordingly, based upon the Consent Agreement of the parties, we hold that a violation of Section 1105(b)(1) of the Ethics Act occurred when Skinner failed to identify his public position /public office as a Member of the Cheyney Universit Board of Trustees upon Statements of Financial Interests filed for the 2013, 2014, and Y016 calendar years. As art of the Consent Agreement, Skinner has agreed to make payment in the amount of $500.00 payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with such payment forwarded to this Commission within thirty (30) days of the issuance of the final adjudication in this matter. Skinner has agreed to not accept any reimbursement, compensation or other payment from PASSHE representing a full or partial reimbursement of the amount paid in settlement of this matter. To the extent he has not already done so, Skinner has agreed to file complete and accurate amended Statements of Financial Interests with PASSHE, through this Commission, for calendar years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 within thirty (30) days of the issuance of the final adjudication in this matter. We determine that the Consent Agreement submitted by the parties sets forth a proper disposition for this case, based upon our review as reflected in the above analysis and the totality of the facts and circumstances. Per the Consent Agreement of the parties, Skinner is directed to make payment in the amount of $500.00 payable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with such payment forwarded to this Commission by no later than the thirtieth (30th) day after the mailing date of this adjudication and Order. Per the Consent Agreement of the parties, Skinner is further directed to not accept any reimbursement, compensation or other payment from PASSHE representing a full or partial reimbursement of the amount paid in settlement of this matter. To the extent he has not already done so, Skinner is directed to file complete and accurate amended Statements of Financial Interests for calendar years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 with PASSHE, through this Commission, by no laterthan the thirtieth (30th) day after the mailing date of this adjudication and Order. Compliance with the foregoing will result in the closing of this case with no further action by this Commission. Noncompliance will result in the institution of an order enforcement action. Skinner, 18 -033 Page e9 IV. CONCLUSIONS OF LAVA: 1. As a Member of the Board of Trustees of Cheyney University of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education since approximately April 20, 2012, Respondent Larry Skinner ( "Skinner ") has been a public official subject to the provisions of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act ( "Ethics Act "), 65 Pa.C.S. § 1101 et seq. 2. Skinner violated Section 1104(a) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1104(a), when he failed to timely file Statement of Financial Interests forms for the 2013, 2015, and 2017 calendar years. 3. A violation of Section 1105(a) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1105(a), occurred when Skinner failed to timely file Statement of Financial Interests forms for the 2013, 2015, and 2017 calendar years and subsequently backdated those filings to give the impression that the forms were timely filed. 4. A violation of Section 1105(b)(1) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1105(b)(1), occurred when Skinner failed to identify his public position /public office as a Member of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees upon Statements of Financial Interests filed for the 2013, 2014, and 2016 calendar years. In Re: Larry Skinner, File Docket: 18 -033 Respondent Date Decided: 216119 Date Mailed: 2113119 ORDER NO. 1748 1. As a Member of the Board of Trustees of Cheyney University of the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, Larry Skinner ( "Skinner ") violated Section 1104(a) of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Act ( "Ethics Act ", 65 Pa.C.S. § 1104(a), when he failed to timely file Statement of Financial Interes s forms for the 2013, 2015, and 2017 calendar years. 2. A violation of Section 1105(a) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1105(a), occurred when Skinner failed to timely file Statement of Financial Interests forms for the 2013, 2015, and 2017 calendar years and subsequently backdated those filings to give the impression that the forms were timely filed. 3. A violation of Section 1105(b)(1) of the Ethics Act, 65 Pa.C.S. § 1105(b)(1), occurred when Skinner failed to identify his public position /public office as a Member of the Cheyney University Board of Trustees upon Statements of Financial Interests filed for the 2013, 2014, and 2016 calendar years. 4. Per the Consent Agreement of the parties, Skinner is directed to make payment in the amount of $500.00 pa able to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, with such payment forwarded to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission by no later than the thirtieth (30E') day after the mailing date of this Order. 5. Per the Consent Agreement of the parties, Skinner is further directed to not accept any reimbursement, compensation or other payment from the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education representing a full or partial reimbursement of the amount paid in settlement of this matter. 6. To the extent he has not already done so, Skinner is directed to file complete and accurate amended Statements of Financial Interests for calendar years 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, through this Commission, by no later than the thirtieth (30th) day after the mailing date of this Order. 7. Compliance with paragraphs 4, 5, and 6 of this Order will result in the closing of this case with no further action by this Commission. Non - compliance will result in the institution of an order enforcement action. BY THE COMMISSION, ,, f FqM-