The commission was created by Act 170 of 1978 and amended by Act 9 of 1989, to administer and enforce the provisions of the Public Official and Employee Ethics Law. The law provides that public office is a public trust and any effort to realize personal financial gain through public office is a violation of that trust. The act was passed to strengthen the faith and confidence of the people of Pennsylvania in their government.

The Ethics Law provides that the commission shall comprise seven members who are cognizant of the responsibilities and burdens of public service. Three commission members are appointed by the governor, only two of whom may be of the same political party. One member each is appointed by the president pro tempore of the senate, the minority leader of the senate, the speaker of the house, and the minority leader of the house. All are appointed without confirmation. Commission members are eligible to serve two full three-year terms. During the 1989-90 term, Helena G. Hughes, an African American, was chairman of the State Ethics Commission.

Statements of Financial Interest, 1984-1989. (2 cartons) Grouped by year. Statements of financial interest by elected state officials and appointees to state office between 1984 and 1989 disclose financial ties with private firms or interest groups. A sampling of the 1984 records include: financial interest statements by such African American public officials as Shirley M. Dennis and William R. Davis, Senators H. Craig Lewis and James K. Rhodes, and state house Representatives Harry E. Bowser, Dwight Evans, K. Leroy Irvis, David P. Richardson and James R. Roebuck.

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