Senator appoints colleague’s wife to gaming board – Times News Online

HARRISBURG – The highest Republican within the Pennsylvania Senate has quietly appointed the partner of a colleague to a coveted spot on the state’s Gaming Management Board, elevating questions anew about whether or not the regulatory panel has change into a profitable touchdown floor for the politically linked.

Senate President Professional Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, named Frances “Fran” Regan to serve a two-year time period on the board, a plum appointment in Harrisburg circles as a result of, at a $145,000 annual wage, it is likely one of the higher-paid positions in state authorities.

Regan, who’s married to Sen. Mike Regan, R-York, was sworn in Monday, with little fanfare contained in the Gaming Management Board’s workplace, in line with board officers.

Not like with a number of earlier appointments, there was no information launch saying her choice – her identify merely appeared on the board’s web site. When requested for Regan’s resume, board officers initially mentioned they didn’t have one.

Late Tuesday, they supplied a biography for Regan, which says that she served with the federal probation workplace for greater than 24 years conducting background and legal investigations.

For the previous six years, she has been a small-business proprietor, holding private and non-private health courses to empower girls and their private security.

Frances Regan couldn’t instantly be reached.

In an interview Tuesday, Corman mentioned he selected Regan due to her background in regulation enforcement. Being associated to a public official shouldn’t disqualify her from the place, mentioned Corman, including that he interviewed slightly below a half dozen individuals for the job.

“Simply because your husband is concerned in public service doesn’t imply you shouldn’t,” he mentioned, including that Frances Regan is a good friend and he needs somebody in that job who he can belief.

Since its inception, the board, which oversees slots and on line casino playing within the state, has typically hosted high-profile names in Pennsylvania politics and authorities, together with ex-state lawmakers. When legislators legalized on line casino playing in 2004, they gave the governor the power to call three members to the board.

The 4 Democratic and Republican leaders within the Home and Senate every get one appointment.

The board now oversees an business that, in 2019, raked in $3.4 billion in income, in line with the Gaming Management Board. Even in the course of the pandemic, the mixed income of slot machines, desk video games, sports activities wagering, iGaming, video gaming terminals, and fantasy contests totaled $2.6 billion.

Of the 31 individuals who have been named to the Gaming Management Board since 2004, 16 have both served in state authorities or legislative jobs, or have been state lawmakers themselves, in line with an evaluation by Highlight PA.

Simply final month, longtime state Rep. Frank Dermody, the previous high Democrat within the state Home who misplaced reelection final yr, was tapped by Home Minority Chief Joanna McClinton of Philadelphia to serve on the board.

Dermody, a onetime prosecutor who served within the legislature for 30 years, turned the fourth ex-Home Democrat to snag a spot on the board, which incorporates two different former lawmakers.

For Dermody and different lawmakers, the appointment is greater than only a well-paid job – it finally may assist to spice up their future pension earnings. In Pennsylvania, these are calculated utilizing a system that takes into consideration an individual’s highest three years of wage. And the Gaming Management Board pays considerably greater than what rank-and-file lawmakers, as properly these in management, earn yearly.

Christopher Borick, a political-science professor at Muhlenberg Faculty in Allentown, mentioned it’s as much as public officers like Corman to clarify their picks. And on the subject of political appointments, like ones to the Gaming Management Board and different statewide panels, the bar needs to be even larger.

“You’ll count on a transparent case to be made,” mentioned Borick, “about why you’re the particular person so as to add worth to an vital board. That’s the lacking hyperlink. You don’t see that anymore.”

Frances Regan’s husband, Mike Regan, was elected to the Senate in 2016 and reelected to a second four-year time period in 2020.

His identify has been bandied about in political circles as a possible Republican candidate for governor, though the Central Pennsylvania lawmaker has not publicly introduced any intention to run for larger workplace.

In 2022, two key political spots – the governor’s workplace, and one of many state’s two U.S. Senate seats – are up for grabs.

Frances Regan changed outgoing board member Merritt Reitzel, who was appointed by Corman’s predecessor, Republican Joe Scarnati of Jefferson County. On the time, her appointment drew scrutiny as a result of Reitzel was the sister-in-law of Scarnati’s then-chief of workers.

The state Senate has since employed Reitzel to function a lawyer to the committee that oversees gaming rules, in line with Corman.

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