GLENDALE, ARIZONA – FEBRUARY 12: James Bradberry #24 of the Philadelphia Eagles is called for holding against JuJu Smith-Schuster #9 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the fourth quarter in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
[This article was updated at 10:57 a.m., Wednesday, 2/15/23 to include comment from Team PA president and CEO Abby Smith.]
Gov. Josh Shapiro and First Lady Lori Shapiro’s trip to Arizona to cheer for the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl was at no expense to taxpayers, Shapiro’s office said.
Press Secretary Manuel Bonder said the trip was paid for in a partnership with the Team PA Foundation, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to promoting public-private partnerships for Pennsylvania’s economic growth.
“The Governor was proud to attend the Super Bowl as an ambassador for all Pennsylvania has to offer and to cheer on the Eagles alongside several other governors. As has been the case in previous administrations, no taxpayer money was spent on the trip thanks to a partnership with the Team PA foundation,” Bonder said in a statement provided to the Capital-Star.
Shapiro’s office declined to reveal the specifics of his travel, including whether Shapiro flew on a commercial or private aircraft, citing security protocols.
Team PA was founded in 1997 when former Gov. Tom Ridge and members of his cabinet approached business leaders to discuss a public-private partnership for a more prosperous future for Pennsylvania. The group’s leadership is composed of business and state government leaders, with the governor serving as a co-chairperson of its board of directors.
Shapiro serves as Team PA’s co-chairperson with McNees Wallace and Nurick Chairperson Brian Jackson.
Team PA President and CEO Abby Smith said the foundation has a fund specifically for raising the profile of the governor that is supported by private donations.
The organization focuses its work on “high-growth” economic opportunities, including agriculture, digital, energy, and manufacturing, according to its website. It also serves as a fiduciary agent for projects and commissions such as the Governor’s Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and the fund to preserve the governor’s residence.
Team PA’s June 2022 financial report lists $11.5 million in assets and more than $2.7 million in revenue including nearly $1.5 million in state Department of Community and Economic Development grants and $232,260 from the New American Development Fund, a low-interest business loan program administered by DCED.
Smith said the DCED grants are earmarked for specific projects and cannot be used for expenses such as Shapiro’s trip.
Ridge was criticized for accepting gifts such as sports tickets and private jet travel from lobbyists during his administration. That prompted Gov. Tom Wolf to implement a strict gift ban. Shapiro has since relaxed the policy to allow cabinet members and employees to accept small items and food and beverages at events they attend.
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