Down in the polls and with three major scandals engulfing his administration, Governor Tom Corbett has now come up with a bizarre new excuse for holding regular campaign meetings in his state office. Corbett now says that his Campaign Manager Mike Barley – who has weekly meetings with Corbett in his official office – is no different than civic leaders who meet with Corbett to discuss legislation.
“Last week’s excuse for why Tom Corbett is violating state ethics laws by holding campaign meetings in his state office fell flat, so now he’s come up with a new bizarre statement that doesn’t pass the smell test,” Campaign for a Fresh Start Spokesman Mike Mikus said. Fresh Start PA, a political action coalition that supports the candidacy of Democrat Tom Wolf for governor
“Tom Corbett put people in jail for using state resources, so he should know that what he is doing is wrong. Instead of comparing his campaign advisers to civic leaders, Tom Corbett should be apologizing for hypocritically breaking the law,” said Mikus.
In recent weeks, the Corbett Administration has been engulfed by three major scandals. In addition to reports that Corbett is illegally holding campaign meetings in his state office, his former Education Secretary Ron Tomalis has been accused of doing no work in return for his $140,000 taxpayer-funded salary, and acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq admitted that the Department of Education illegally deletes emails on a regular basis.
Officials of Fresh Start PA have called for various state agencies to investigate whether Tomalis was a “ghost employee” who did little or no work for his $139,542 salary and to examine the email retention practices of the education department.
Fresh Start chairwoman Katie McGinty continued to push Republican Gov. Tom Corbett for those investigations and for the firing of acting Secretary of Education Carolyn Dumaresq over public statements she made claiming education department employees delete and cleanse their emails each day.
In response, Jay Pagni, a spokesman for Gov. Corbett, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the governor “has full confidence in acting secretary Dumaresq.”
If it’s within their jurisdiction, agencies have a right to follow up on such calls for inquiry.
A spokeswoman for Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said his office is in the midst of a special performance audit of the department of education — an audit that was started in January after complaints from school districts about the department’s performance.
“Over the past year and up until January, the school audits revealed a lot of things that we found that the department of education wasn’t doing or wasn’t doing properly — things involving charter school reimbursements and just not providing enough assistance to school districts as they should,” spokeswoman Susan Woods told the Post-Gazette.
Meanwhile, Dumaresq continues to reject the notion that there is a cover-up.