Republicans feuding with Democrats in Harrisburg is hardly news, especially in the closing weeks before an election.
But a tiff between Auditor General Eugene DePasquale and Governor Tom Corbett has intensified and gone public.
Several Corbett staffers are seething at DePasquale for what they see as a wanton, politically-motivated campaign to discredit the governor and boost the candidacy of his fellow York Countian and fellow Democrat, Tom Wolf, Corbett’s opponent.
The auditor general has certainly been busy this week taking swipes at the governor and his administration.
On Monday, DePasquale announced he has concerns about the cost of Corbett’s Healthy PA plan.
On Tuesday, he joined Treasurer Rob McCord, also a Democrat, at a news conference blasting the Corbett-signed state budget as being unsustainable.
On Wednesday, DePasquale announced he was expanding a routine audit of Corbett’s Department of Education to now include a look at special advisors. It’s in reaction to the Ron Tomalis saga.
Corbett staffers insists there’s little substance to DePasquale’s criticism and he’s merely playing politics to help Wolf, who has contributed to various DePasquale campaigns through the years.
In response to DePasquale’s attempt to expand his Education Department audit, a spokesman said it’s reviewing the request and added, “given the sudden increase in the number of reviews, audits and inquiries the auditor general is currently undertaking, it is clear that he is succumbing to political tactics.”
Corbett sent DePasquale a letter Wednesday in reaction to his questioning of Healthy PA. It struck a similar chord. “Unfortunately for Pennsylvania taxpayers, outside political pressures are clearly influencing how you perform your elected duties.” The letter was signed by Corbett.
We asked DePasquale about the three Corbett bashes in three days.
“I do think it’s my responsibility to review each and every one of those things. As auditor general, I do know that if you do the audit somebody’s upset and if you don’t do the audit somebody’s upset,” he said. “My job is to pick our spots where I think we can have the biggest impact for the taxpayers and then understand that people are gonna make their own interpretation of it.”
Corbett’s interpretation is that DePasquale is going out of his way to unfairly discredit him. One staffer called DePasquale’s trifecta this week, “total BS.”
The statement from the Education Department also hinted that the administration wouldn’t cooperate with DePasquale’s expanded audit, but the auditor general said simply the Department of Education will cooperate.
“The Pennsylvania Constitution is pretty clear,” DePasquale said. “If it’s taxpayer money, state taxpayer money, a state agency, we get to audit them. It’s not up for debate.”