HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – It was as if Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) was reading from the menu of a fine restaurant.
“New York strip, swordfish steaks, duck breasts, Mahi filet,” Metcalfe read from a report and highlighted expenses submitted by Lt. Gov. Mike Stack (D).
For a thin guy, Stack apparently eats well.
Metcalfe is Chairman of the House State Government Committee, which sunk it’s teeth into the Lt. Governor’s expenses during a public hearing at the Capitol.
“Ten pounds of jumbo lump crab, $30 at Bagel Lovers,” said Anna McCauslin, Deputy State Director for the PA chapter of Americans for Prosperity, the only person to testify in the hour-long hearing.
Right to Know reports show that over a two-year period (2015-16) Stack spent $73,000 in expenses, much of it food, much of it for the Lt. Governor’s mansion at Fort Indiantown Gap.
“Is this all legitimate spending?” McCauslin asked the lawmakers. “I have no idea because it’s not tracked for the average Pennsylvanian to follow.”
McCauslin was critical of Stack’s spending saying that with his $162,000 salary, tops in America for a Number Two, he should be paying for his own groceries. But she also blasted a system that requires receipts but apparently no oversight with power.
“Even if it’s audited, there’s no accountability measures within the audit to say whether the expense is good, it’s bad. We don’t know. And that’s what troubles me.”
Stack refused to appear at the hearing. In a scathing letter to Metcalfe, he suggested House Republicans should be focused on the un-done budget. He added that his expenses are in line with his predecessors and approved and scrutinized by the state. Metcalfe said Stack is not being “considerate of taxpayers” and suggested there’s a much bigger question.
“What should the taxpayers be required to pay for?” Metcalfe asked.
It is a fair question.
Should taxpayers, for instance, pay for Metcalfe’s hour-long hearing on a non-session day in August? Committee members came to Harrisburg just for the hour long hearing and now can collect per diems, which are receipt-less reimbursements. The legislature gobbles up more than $2 million worth of per diems every year. Was this Stack informational hearing so pressing that it couldn’t have waited until the next session day in mid-September? The chairman said the hearing was justified.
“It wouldn’t be responsible for me to allow paid staff to sit idly by all summer waiting to do something until the Speaker (Mike Turzai) decides to call us back into Harrisburg,” Metcalfe said.
So Metcalfe put Stack’s expenses under the microscope and laid bare the fact that there is not enough oversight or control on those expenses. But his own testifier concedes that problem doesn’t stop at the Lt. Governor’s door.
“Any employee working for state government should have the same kind of quality control or itemization or some kind of check,” McCauslin said. “It just doesn’t seem to be there.”