Pa. GOP lawmaker Mastriano doubles down on election audit, requests meeting with President Biden
State Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, addresses a crowd of Trump supporters at the Pennsylvania state Capitol on Saturday, Nov. 7, the day the presidential race was called for Democrat Joe Biden. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)
Despite state Democrats’ attempt to dissuade efforts to investigate the state’s two most recent elections, the GOP lawmaker who’s leading the proposed review isn’t giving up. He’s doubling down.
“A full forensic investigation is necessary for the sake of transparency and accountability,” Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, wrote in a letter he said was sent Tuesday to President Joe Biden. “Those who have concerns about the integrity of the election will have those concerns investigated and hopefully addressed. Those who think that there was zero voter fraud, no irregularities and that the elections were conducted perfectly will have the chance to be vindicated.”
Mastriano, who shared the letter online Monday evening, also requested a meeting with Biden, who is expected to deliver a voting rights speech in Philadelphia on Tuesday.
— Senator Doug Mastriano (@SenMastriano) July 13, 2021
The request follows a months-long campaign led by former President Donald Trump and his supporters to propagate unsubstantiated claims of a stolen election. And it comes nearly a week after Mastriano requested election materials from York, Tioga, and Philadelphia counties for the proposed investigation.
Mastriano has not responded to requests for comment but has touted his plans for an investigation in a string of interviews with right-wing media outlets.
Though there has been no evidence of widespread voter fraud or election misconduct in Pennsylvania — or nationally — he said an investigation will restore trust in the electoral process, something he has questioned since Biden was elected.
Biden, who won the 2020 presidential election in Pennsylvania with 3.46 million votes, has not publicly acknowledged the letter.
After Mastriano’s announcement and request to counties last week, Acting Secretary of State Veronica Degraffenreid issued an indefinite directive that prohibits third-party access to voting systems. Attorney General Josh Shapiro said his office would “do everything to protect the commonwealth, its voters, and the free, fair election that was held in Pennsylvania.”
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf dismissed the proposal to investigate, calling it “a profound waste of time and taxpayer money.” He also reminded Pennsylvanians that Mastriano was also photographed outside the U.S. Capitol on the day of the Jan. 6 insurrection.
Six months after he was at the U.S. Capitol insurrection, one of our lawmakers is attempting to launch a sham election audit in PA.
This is a disgrace to democracy — not to mention a profound waste of time and taxpayer money.
I won’t stand for it.https://t.co/lZoDTKPSKT
— Governor Tom Wolf (@GovernorTomWolf) July 8, 2021
Mastriano has said that he did not participate in the Capitol riot; however, he did request a taxpayer-funded hearing on election fraud in Gettysburg last November. The hearing featured Trump attorney Rudy Guiliani, who recently had his law license suspended for making “demonstrably false and misleading statements” while challenging the 2020 election results on behalf of the Trump campaign.
In a letter from Senate Democrats, the three counties were urged not to comply with Mastriano’s request, which came with a July 31 deadline. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, and Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia, also asked Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, to “end this misguided and political farce immediately.”
Corman and Ward have not said whether they support the proposed investigation. But over the weekend, Corman called the directive from the Department of State “an attack on the General Assembly’s power to review, investigate, and legislate” within its authority.
“The Legislature has clear authority — both statutorily and constitutionally — to provide oversight and issue subpoenas,” Corman said in a statement. “This directive tramples those rights which were specifically put in place to prevent potential abuses and overreach by the executive branch.”
In a Monday statement, Mastriano described actions made by the Wolf administration and state Democrats as “scare tactics” meant to “intimidate county officials and obstruct a forensic investigation.”
Mastriano asked: “For people who once lectured the state about transparency and accountability, we all ask, what do they have to hide?”
As required by law, county election offices conducted a statistical sampling of ballots cast in the 2020 general election; 63 counties in Pennsylvania also conducted “risk-limiting” audits. Neither post-election review found evidence of fraud or misconduct, according to the Department of State.
Because of those reviews, Costa said he is not afraid of an investigation; however, another review would further “indulge” Trump and false claims of a stolen election, he said in a statement.
“It betrays trust in our electoral system without cause and can reduce participation in that important process,” Costa said.
Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Marley Parish