PGC Must Answer for Continued Lack of Transparency, Maloney Tells Governor
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s (PGC) refusal to conduct business in an open and transparent way has prompted Republican House Game and Fisheries Committee Chairman David Maloney (R-Berks) to again write the governor, state Office of Administration and the Pennsylvania Game Commission requesting action to rein in an agency that has gone rogue and lost sight of its mission.

Maloney sent the following letter today:

Governor Josh Shapiro                               Neil Weaver, Secretary
225 Capitol Building                                    Office of Administration
Harrisburg, PA  17120                                210 Finance Building
                                                                                  613 North Street
                                                                                  Harrisburg, PA  17120

Commissioners of the Pennsylvania Game Commission
2001 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA  17110-9797

PGC must answer for their continued lack of transparency.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission (PGC) Board had an opportunity to right the Commission’s mistakes, and it was squandered. I will provide some background before posing several questions about this latest incident.

On Sunday May 12, 2024, late in the evening, it was brought to my attention that the Game Commission attempted to notice a “Special Meeting of the Board of Commissioners” for noon the following day. It was uncovered that this notice was posted online before noon on Sunday May 12, 2024, which barely provided the 24 hours of notice required to comply with part of Title 65. 

Keep in mind, I fully understand the need for this “special meeting”. It was my prior letter that called out the Commission’s error in voting to appoint a new director at an executive session, and the need to fix it. I had hoped, apparently in vain, that the “do-over” would have been more than the slightest nod in the direction of open and transparent government.

As noted, a portion of the notice required before an open meeting was arguably satisfied by the Commission’s Sunday posting, but it appears the Commission failed to notice the May 13, 2024, meeting in any manner other than a minor note on their website. Public notice, as defined in Title 65, entails more than posting a single sentence, a simple agenda, and a video link online. 

As made clear in Title 65 § 703, public notice for a meeting must be shared “in a newspaper of general circulation, as defined by 45 PA.C.S. § 101”. To my knowledge, there was no notice of the Commission’s swiftly arranged meeting via any newspaper of general circulation. I can understand the difficulty in finding a newspaper to post this notice on a Sunday, but the Commission brought this reality upon themselves.

May17, 2024
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It seems there was no opportunity for the public to provide comments on matters of concern. Posting a special meeting online, without the public’s ability to participate in any manner, is not reflective of an open and transparent Commission.

It appears that the Pennsylvania Game Commission continues to disregard the spirit, if not the letter, of the laws of the Commonwealth and disrespects the very sportsmen that support the Commission.

Stephen Smith is clearly the Commission’s pre-ordained Executive Director. I am not aware that any other candidate was interviewed, or that input from the public was allowed, and now there is less hope for the necessary reforms required within the Commission.

In my previous press release and letter shared on May 8, 2024, I provided the Commissioners an opportunity to conduct the business of the PGC in the light of day, and it was squandered. As alluded to in my previous letter to both Governor Shapiro and the Office of Administration, Title 65 § 713 notes that “should the court determine that the meeting did not meet the requirements of this chapter, it may in its discretion find that any or all official action taken at the meeting shall be invalid.” 

Attached to this letter, I have included the entirety of “Open Meetings | The Sunshine Act | Fifth Edition | July 2022,” from the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services in the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, for the Commission to reference. I urge the Commission to familiarize itself with this document. In particular, I would draw the Commission’s attention to page 8 of the document, concerning public notice. The attached document, as well as the Office of Open Records FAQ on the Sunshine Act found here -, explains that (emphasis in bold added):

What notice must an agency provide prior to public meetings?

For regular public meetings, agencies (including committees) must provide at least three days advance notice prior to the first regularly scheduled meeting of the calendar or fiscal year, along with all further scheduled meetings for the remainder of the calendar or fiscal year. The notice – which must include the date, time, and location of the meetings – must be printed in a paid newspaper of general circulation. A notice must also be posted at the location(s) where the meetings are to take place.

For a special or rescheduled public meeting, agencies must provide at least 24 hours advance notice, with the notice bring [sic] printed in a paid newspaper of general circulation and posted at the location where the meeting is to take place.

The following questions must be answered by the PGC:

•   What newspaper contained notice of the special meeting of the Commission held on May 13, 2024?

May 17, 2024
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•   Does the PGC recognize Title 65, the Pennsylvania Sunshine Act? If so, how does the Commission ensure that their meetings and actions are open to the public and accountable to Pennsylvania sportsmen?

•   Following Bryan Burhans’ resignation was there any effort to post the opening for the position of Executive Director, any interviews conducted other than Mr. Smith, or any public comments requested?

Moving forward, the Commission should post the position of Executive Director to pursue viable candidates, interview those candidates, host a public meeting that was duly noticed, entertain public comment at or before the meeting, and then finally hold a vote on whichever prospective candidate is found to be most suitable for such an important role. The integrity of the Pennsylvania Game Commission is in question, and I offer myself to be of assistance in righting the wrongs that have been made.

I eagerly await your response to my questions.


Chairman David M. Maloney, Sr.
House Game & Fisheries Committee

Representative David Maloney
130th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Charles Lardner