Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker has failed to file a state mandated ethics statement for last year and may have omitted material information from the year before, including an all-expense paid trip to Africa, a review by the Beaver Countian has revealed.
The Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission requires all public officials to file a Statement of Financial Interests (SFI) each year. The forms provide the public an opportunity to research any potential conflicts of interest an official may have and examine any benefits a public official may be receiving due to their positions. The Ethics Commission requires officials to list their real estate interests, creditors, sources of income, gifts, travel, and financial interests in any business.
Ethics statements for state officials are filed with the Ethics Commission in Harrisburg and are viewable online, statements from officials at the county level are filed with the Bureau of Elections in the courthouse, while officials serving at the local level file statements with their respective municipal buildings. State law mandates ethics forms be available for inspection by the public at any time during normal business hours.
The Beaver Countian went to the Aliquippa City Building yesterday to inspect ethics statements filed by Mayor Dwan Walker, finding that he failed to file a statement detailing financial information from the previous year as required by law.
When the Beaver Countian later messaged Mayor Walker asking him why he had not filed his ethics statement, he insisted he had, and that this reporter was lying about the file not being provided at the City Building. The Beaver Countian had watched as a secretary removed a folder containing this year’s SFIs from a filing cabinet, and documented all files provided for examination which included SFIs from other city officials — Walker’s was not among them. “I know it was there period,” he wrote. Mayor Walker stopped responding after this reporter revealed the process had been documented on video.
Mayor Walker did have a prior statement on file in another folder from 2013 provided to the Beaver Countian detailing financial interests from 2012. Walker listed Fedex as his only source of income, with no real estate interests, no interest in any business, and no creditors (officials are not required to list home mortgages, but must list any other debts that had a balance in excess of $6,500 at any time during the calendar year). Walker was forced out of his position at FedEx in September of 2012 for conducting city business while at work, and has since been spending full days in the Aliquippa City Building. It is unclear how he has been supporting himself.
Walker also listed that he received no gifts and no transportation, lodging, or hospitality in 2012. Officials must list all gifts in excess of $250 that did not come from family members or personal friends, and most travel costs or reimbursements in excess of $650.
The official website for the City of Aliquippa currently features photos of Mayor Walker from a trip to Nigeria, Africa that he took in 2012.
As the Beaver Countian first reported in November of 2012, Mayor Dwan Walker traveled to Nigeria after being invited to a 5 day conference by a nonprofit organization named ALGON. A letter from the organization shows that Walker was an invited participant due to his “work in city government and for a continued commitment at building cross continental bridge to strengthen relations between U.S and Nigeria [sic].” The letter goes on to say that during the trip “we will explore areas whereby we can increase our cooperation to benefit our respective cities.” It is unclear what business or other relationships Aliquippa may have with Nigeria. The letter states that ALGON was to cover the “cost of travel, lodging, feeding and ground logistics” for Mayor Walker’s trip to Africa.
Walker has posted several photos from his trip to Nigeria on his Facebook page, including a photograph that shows a layover in Frankfurt, Germany and a flight on “Arik Wings Of Nigeria” airlines. Other photographs show Mayor Walker stayed at the Abuja Sheraton Hotel & Towers while in Nigeria, and that he visited the Jacaranda Casino. A bottle of wine can be seen in one picture with a placard reading “Complements of Specialty Drilling Fluids Ltd.”
It is unknown how much ALGON spent in total to have the Mayor of a small third-class city in Pennsylvania (with a population of just 9,300) attend its conference in Africa. Travel sites show the cost of plane tickets alone from Pittsburgh to Nigeria may have been over $2,000.
Mayor Dwan Walker did not respond to any questions sent to him about his trip to Africa.