Game Commission agrees to demand for policy changes

HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Game Commission wasted no time Tuesday agreeing to comply with demands by Gov. Tom Corbett and several high-ranking state lawmakers to reverse some recent decisions and adopt a new policy on outside work by employees.

The response from the commission’s executive director, Matthew Hough, came hours after the governor and top legislators told the board’s president in a letter that the agency should rescind an agreement to pay $220,000 to recently retired executive director Carl Roe.

The governor and lawmakers also insisted that veteran employee William Capouillez, who directs the bureau of wildlife habitat management, not be named as the long-term successor to Roe and Hough.

Capouillez has drawn scrutiny for work negotiating oil and gas leases for private landowners with companies he dealt with as a Game Commission employee.

Capouillez has said he disclosed the business in state ethics filings and does not perform private work on state time.

The letter demanded that outside work by all agency employees now be approved by the Office of Administration, which Corbett controls.

The response from Hough said the agency would immediately comply with the recommendations.

“The board directed me to inform you that it reviewed the letter and has agreed to the course of action set forth therein,” Hough wrote.

Along with Corbett, the letter also was signed by the two highest-ranking Republicans in the House and Senate, the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate committees that deal with the Game Commission and the Senate committee’s ranking Democrat.

Their letter was striking in its tone, demanding the board members agree to the changes or step down.

“If, individually or collectively, you and your fellow commissioners are unable to appreciate the prudence of fostering the above course of action, or you are otherwise inclined to refuse the above recommendations, alternatively, we request that you immediately resign,” they wrote.

The issues probably have given the Game Commission a black eye, said board president Robert Schlemmer, to whom the letter was addressed.