Republican Senate leader demands subpoenas for Pennsylvania’s election probe

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman slams Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf for 'refusing to take accountability' and require his administration to testify.

Updated: September 11, 2021 - 12:14am

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The Pennsylvania Senate’s top ranking Republican said Friday the commission spearheading an election investigation should issue subpoenas as soon as possible.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Bellefonte, told the Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee to convene Monday for a vote on the matter. The instruction comes after the Department of State stood up the panel’s invitation to testify at the probe’s inaugural hearing on Thursday.

“The dereliction of duty by Wolf Administration officials continues a troubling pattern of refusing to take accountability for weaponizing an agency that is supposed to be non-partisan,” he said in an email Friday morning.

Committee Chairman Cris Dush, R-Wellsboro, said the administration declined participation because of Fulton County’s pending lawsuit against the department over its decertified voting machines.

Stuart Ulsh, chairman of the Fulton County Board of Commissioners, appeared as the lone testifier on Thursday where he defended his choice to let a software firm, Wake Technology Services, access the machines as part of a voluntary audit allegedly funded by a nonprofit group with ties to former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell.

Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid, in a letter to Ulsh and his fellow commissioners, said she had “no other choice” upon learning of Wake TSI’s inspection, which violated the state's chain of custody provisions and other "strict limitations" designed to prevent tampering.

Corman wants the committee to issue subpoenas for information and testimony from the department as well as the state’s election registry and “take other steps necessary to get access to ballots and other voting materials to begin a full forensic audit of the 2020 General Election.”

“Yesterday’s hearing was an important first step in the process of investigating every aspect of our election system, but it will not be the last,” he said. “Pennsylvanians deserve answers about the Wolf Administration’s mishandling of our election.”

It’s the latest twist in an effort that’s struggled to get off the ground since Dush visited Arizona’s forensic audit in Phoenix in early June with Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Gettysburg, and Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Chambersburg.

Corman replaced Mastriano with Dush as committee chairman last month after the former publicized the caucus’s internal battle over the probe during an appearance on One America News Network, where accused GOP leaders of stonewalling his efforts.

In the weeks since, Corman has been vocal and steadfast about his support for an Arizona-style audit. He’s also sidelined Mastriano in the effort, accusing him of preferring to grandstand at rallies than actually “get things done.”Democrats, meanwhile, call the audit self-serving and accuse Republicans of attempting to pare back voting rights because their candidate lost in November. Backlash reaches all the way to top of the party, including Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf, who warned counties in July to dismiss the "fishing expedition."