HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pennsylvania’s Office of Inspector General says it did not document how many tax dollars were spent investigating accusations Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack and his wife Tonya mistreated their staff and State Police detail.
Last month, Governor Wolf announced he would not make the final results of the investigation public.
The Office of Inspector General investigates misconduct, fraud, abuse, and waste in executive agencies. Although the agency released the investigation into cheating allegations at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, the Office of Inspector General typically does not publicize its final findings.
In December, ABC27 filed Right to Know requests for records reflecting how many employees worked on the investigation and subsequent report, how many hours were spent on both, and how many tax dollars were spent in the process.
On Tuesday, the Office of Inspector General issued a response, saying it “did not create and does not possess any records” responsive to those requests. The office also denied ABC27’s requests for emails related to the report and investigation.
ABC27 filed an appeal of the denial with the Office of Open Records, which will issue a final determination in the coming weeks.
Wolf has said he won’t release the Stack investigation because Stack was already disciplined with the removal of his State Police detail. Wolf also expressed concern about being fair to Tonya Stack, who is reportedly receiving mental health treatment.
Office of Inspector General Chief of Staff Clarke Madden said there are a number of details he could not discuss with ABC27 because of the pending appeal with the Office of Open Records. He did say law enforcement agencies typically don’t keep records specifically accounting for how taxpayer resources are used per investigation.
When ABC27 asked how the agency allocates resources and prevents waste in its own organization if it does not document such information, Madden said accountability is important to the Office of Inspector General, and performance-based reviews of the agency are open to the public. Said reviews do not document the cost of specific investigations, but do show how tax dollars are spent in more general terms.
Madden said under Act 29 of 2017, the General Assembly has oversight over the Office of Inspector General.
The Right to Know Law allows agencies to withhold records that are considered “non-criminal investigations.” On Wednesday, Republican State Senator Scott Wagner, who is running for governor, introduced legislation that would require the Office of Inspector General to make its investigations public under the Right to Know Law, unless the report is “referred for criminal action to an appropriate prosecutorial agency.”
Wagner has said his legislation would ensure elected leaders can’t selectively publicize reports and use the Office of Inspector General “like a private investigator.”
Wolf spokesperson J.J. Abbott sent ABC27 a statement, saying, “Instead of trying to score political points, Sen. Wagner should introduce legislation to end the loophole that he uses to keep his emails secret and allows him to take unlimited gifts under $250 without reporting them.”
The legal exceptions Abbott is referring to apply to all lawmakers, including a Right-to-Know Law provision limiting which House and Senate records are public. The Senate has invoked this exception in denials for lawmakers’ emails, including those of Wagner.
In 2015, the Office of Inspector General announced it would publish summaries of investigations as part of the Wolf administration’s push for transparency. There has not been a summary published for the Stack investigation. Madden said he could not speculate about whether a summary would be published in the future.