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Editorial Board livestream meeting with Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Editor's note: This article originally appeared in the September 18, 2018 edition of The Caucus. 

In examining the expenses of the state’s three row officers, The Caucus came across an unusual one. Josh Shapiro, the attorney general, charged taxpayers $1.69 for a cup of coffee when he visited Williamsport last year on state business. 

He didn’t keep his receipt, so he could not claim the reimbursement — that is, not without directing his executive scheduler to prepare a notarized statement attesting that Shapiro had, in fact, purchased the coffee. 

Shapiro was merely following office policy for documenting a missing receipt with a notarized statement, said his spokesman. Critics suggest Shapiro could have eaten the $1.69 rather than charge the taxpayers. “The optics are awful,” said Charlie Gerow, a Republican political and communications consultant. Gerow said small expenses of a few dollars are items people typically cover themselves rather than charge to their employer.

“I think it’s a problem when you’re asking the taxpayers to pick up a cup of coffee,” Gerow said.

But G. Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, dismissed the coffee purchase as insignificant. Madonna said he believes Shapiro quite appropriately is “creating a paper trail for everything he does. I think it’s absolutely essential.”