Pa. GOP Senate leader refutes accusations that he paused Mastriano-backed election investigation
(*This story was updated at 12:24 p.m. on Friday, 8/20/21, with additional comment from Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman.)
The Republican state senator who’s leading the charge for an Arizona-style review of Pennsylvania’s election results has accused GOP leadership of pausing the probe, saying they’ve “done nothing but stonewall,” his efforts.
In an interview with the far-right One America News Network, state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, said that Senate leadership canceled an alleged Aug. 6 Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee meeting where the 10-member panel was supposed to vote on subpoenas for the proposed investigation.
“The staff of the Senate leadership canceled my reservation of that room to have a vote,” Mastriano told OAN host Christina Bobb on Thursday. “Additionally, calls were made to my committee members, saying the meeting was canceled without even conferring with me. This happened behind my back.
In July, Mastriano announced plans to pursue a “forensic investigation” into Pennsylvania’s 2020 general and 2021 primary elections. He made a sweeping request for voting equipment and election information from York, Tioga, and Philadelphia counties.
However, the three counties — two of them reliably Republican areas, and one Democratic stronghold — refused to comply, citing the cost of replacing election equipment and a directive from the Department of State prohibiting third-party access to voting machines. Mastriano said he wasn’t surprised the local governing boards declined to participate and said subpoenas would be the next step.
He added that he was confident his committee would support the move. The biggest challenge, he said, was finding time to meet.
A Senate Democrats spokesperson told the Capital-Star that no Democratic members of Mastriano’s seldom-used committee or leadership received any notice of a meeting — for Aug. 6 or any other date relative to subpoenas.
To OAN, Mastriano said Senate leadership “threatened” to revoke his title as committee chair in his efforts to move forward with a vote on subpoenas.
“This is the kind of games that are going behind the scenes,” Mastriano said, instructing constituents to call Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, and Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, R-Westmoreland, to push for the investigation.
Ward did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Corman told the Capital-Star on Friday that those accusations are “absolutely not true” and that Mastriano never scheduled a meeting, so there was “never” a meeting to cancel.
“Governing is hard. You have to do things correctly,” Corman told the Capital-Star, saying he worked with Mastriano to coordinate the committee and work on election integrity. “You don’t do them by holding press conferences and rallies. You actually have to do it logistically, so you do it legally.”
Earlier this week, Mastriano appeared at an “Audit the Vote” rally hosted by Women for America First, a conservative group, with state Reps. Dawn Keefer, R-York, and Stephanie Borowicz, R-Clinton, to advocate for the proposed investigation. He’s also attended events held by Audit the Vote PA, a group that promotes unsubstantiated claims of election fraud.
Corman said Mastriano is “very difficult to get to focus,” adding that he’s more been “more interested in rallies and press conferences than actually doing the hard work” of governing.
During a since-deleted Facebook live on Thursday, Mastriano told his supporters that his cause for a “forensic investigation” into Pennsylvania’s two most recent elections had “been weakened and diminished,” citing influence from the “powers-that-be” and a “betrayal” from a group helping advocate for the probe.
In Mastriano’s “retreat,” Corman has asked Sen. Cris Dush, R-Jefferson, who chairs the Senate Local Government Committee, to take on election integrity matters. Dush visited Arizona with Mastriano earlier this summer to tour the GOP-backed election review, which served as a model for what Mastriano wanted to see carried out in Pennsylvania.
“You can’t have a successful democracy if people don’t have faith in the results,” Corman said, adding that he “absolutely” supports an election investigation. “Sometimes Republicans win, sometimes Democrats win. We all move on, but if you don’t have faith in the results, you have a threat to your democracy.”
In a statement released Friday afternoon, Corman said Senate leadership is still committed to conducting a “full investigatory audit.”
Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Marley Parish