Senate Weighing Options as Governor Wolf Fails to Comply With Subpoena, Release Documents

HARRISBURG – The Senate is weighing next steps as Gov. Tom Wolf failed to comply with a subpoena and release documents associated with mandated business closures related to COVID-19 public health emergency, according to Senate Republican leaders.

Senate Republicans have repeatedly sought access to the records in order to examine if legislative action would be necessary to correct inequities, both as part of the ongoing pandemic, as well as for any future emergencies, according to Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-25), Majority Leader Jake Corman (R-34) and Senator Mike Regan (R-31), chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee that voted April 30 to subpoena the records.

Late Friday, in a letter responding to the subpoena, the Governor says he cannot release the information to the Senate due to executive privilege and an audit being conducted by the state’s Auditor General at the request of the Senate.

After sending the letter to the Senate, a list of all businesses granted exemptions was posted to the Department of Community and Economic Development Web site.

The list on the DCED Web site covers only one of 14 areas of information requested by the Senate Republicans, who are reviewing their next steps. Those options include asking the Commonwealth Court to intervene and force the administration to comply with the subpoena.

“As an equal branch of government, we are looking at our legal options to further getting the information out to the public,” Scarnati said. “The public has a right to understand the methods behind granting waivers to some employers and not others.”

“Governor Wolf continues to play games with providing clarity about his decision-making process that shuttered employers and put hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvanians out of work,” Corman said.

“I can’t help but ask – why is the administration going to such great lengths to keep this information from the General Assembly and the public?”

“The founding fathers established a system with checks and balances,” Regan said. “Even in an emergency, the General Assembly has a responsibility to provide oversight so that power during the time of an emergency is kept in check.”

The Senate Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee voted on April 30 to subpoena the documents following the March 19 closures.

The subpoena action followed a request via letter on April 24 letter from the Senate’s Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness and Community, Economic and Recreational Development committees asking for the documents that Wolf and the Department of Community and Economic Development denied.

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