Turzai, an industry ally, takes job with gas utility

The Associated Press
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf delivers his 2020-21 budget address in the House of Representatives as Speaker Mike Turzai, left, and Lt. Gov. John Fetterman look on, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020, in Harrisburg, Pa. Photo by Joe Hermitt/PennLive/The Patriot-News via AP

HARRISBURG — A day after leaving his post as speaker of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, Mike Turzai has become general counsel for the Pittsburgh-based natural gas division of Essential Utilities Inc., the company said Tuesday.

Turzai, a Republican from suburban Pittsburgh, was an ally of Pennsylvania’s natural gas industry while in office, including helping to rebuff efforts to impose a tax on production from the vast Marcellus Shale reservoir.

The Associated Press reported in January that Turzai was said to have received an offer from the company before Turzai announced that he would not run for re-election.

More:Pennsylvania House speaker says he'll leave office next week

It is not clear who might succeed Turzai as speaker. Next in line in GOP leadership is House Majority Leader Bryan Cutler of Lancaster County.

Earlier this year, Bryn Mawr-based water utility Aqua America Inc. closed on its $4.3 billion purchase of Pittsburgh-based gas utility Peoples to become Essential Utilities. Peoples says it serves 760,000 homes and businesses.

In 2017, Turzai announced a run for governor, but dropped out when the Republican State Committee voted to endorse a rival in the primary. He also had expressed an interest in running for governor again in 2022, when Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, is barred from seeking another four-year term.

Turzai was speaker for all five and-a-half years during Wolf’s time in office after serving four years as majority leader.