PA guv moves to dismiss Republican subpoena over voter data Spotlight PA

This article is Spotlight PAcollaboration with vote beat, a bipartisan news agency covering local election administration and voting.This article may be reprinted under the terms of Votebeat reissue policy.

The Wolf administration is determined to reject requests by state Senate Republicans for confidential voter information made by lawmakers as part of an investigation into the 2020 election.

of Motion Filed Monday.

They argued that because the most recent legislative session ended on November 30, the powers of the State Senate Intergovernmental Operations Committee and the subpoenas it issued had effectively expired. He cites a brief quote dissenting from a Republican attorney at a hearing in June when she said the subpoena would expire on that date.

Nevertheless, the commission plans to challenge the motion, according to attorney Matt Haverstic, who represents Republicans on the commission.

The subpoenas are just one part of a long-running review by state Senate Republicans of the 2020 general election and 2021 primary, an ongoing effort to keep them out of Arizona and played out in the governor’s primary. It led to feuds within the party.

The commission also agreed to a contract worth more than $250,000 in 2021 Lesser known limited liability companyEnvoy Sage, to examine if and when that data came, and investigate hints of fraud and third-party election interference.

It’s not clear if the company has done any work. Envoy Sage’s phone number was constantly busy and the company did not respond to emails. Votebeat and SpotlightPA have requested records from the Pennsylvania Department of Treasury showing how much the company was actually paid, but have yet to receive them.

However, it is unclear what direction the 2023 investigation will take, or if it will continue.

Session throughline

of Survey to start in July 2021 State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Franklin), Chair of the Commission, Addresses Former President Donald Trump’s Call for a “Forensic Audit” of the 2020 Election, Demanding Election Materials for Audit Purpose when I sent a letter to the three counties to

This movement resulted in some bristles, and the Mastriano did not last long as a chair. Senate Speaker Pro Tempoa Jake Coman (R-Centre) then replaced him with state Senator Chris Dash (R-Jefferson).

Earlier in the summer, Dush and Mastriano traveled to Maricopa County, Arizona, to see Senate Republicans conducting election reviews there.

When Dash took over, the committee’s focus shifted to the State Department. September 2021, the names, addresses, driver licenses, partial Social Security numbers of all Pennsylvania voters, and all communications between the state’s election officials and election officials in all of her 67 counties issued a subpoena to the government agency requesting That fall is also when the Commission made a contract with the Envoy Sage.

Requests for voter personal information have come under fire from Senate Democrats, the State Department, the Office of the Attorney General, and nonprofits. class action lawsuit It sought to block it in Pennsylvania federal court, arguing, among other things, that it violated a provision of the Pennsylvania Constitution relating to citizens’ right to privacy.

The investigation nearly stalled as the case passed the courts the following year, ultimately culminating in oral argument before a three-judge panel in September of this year.

Attorneys for the Senate Democrats and the State Department argued at the hearing that Republicans had not articulated why they needed the information, but the Republican attorneys gave them the “revenue of doubt” that the Senate committee could be trusted. argued that it should be

panel judge he seemed to sympathize with the argument The committee’s subpoenas were necessary for its ability to research and draft legislation, local NPR affiliate WITF reported at the time, but the court had not ruled three months after its hearing. .

Senate Democratic attorney Clifford Levine said he would have expected the verdict by now. He also said he believes there are still questions about how much it cost taxpayers over questions that Republican senators should answer.

what’s next

A federal court is expected to consider the State Department’s motion to dismiss, but it’s not clear when that decision will be made.

It’s also unclear whether the commission will continue with the underlying investigation, even if the court allows the subpoena to remain in force.

Republicans still have a majority in the House and are due to make a mandate to the Senate Intergovernmental Committee in early January. Dash (R. Jefferson), who led the investigation, did not respond to a call for comment this week. A spokesperson for the interim Senate Speaker’s pro-his Tempo Akim Ward (R-Westmoreland) did not respond to a call for comment on Thursday.

Levine is skeptical that the investigation will continue in the next session, given the current political climate has changed.

“It was part of the politics that Ward, not Corman, had a new acting president and Mastriano was not running,” he said.

There are also no current contracts in force between the Senate and Envoy Sage, according to the state contract database.

State Senator Art Heywood (D-Montgomery, Philadelphia) said things were in a pending pattern as both sides awaited a court ruling. Heywood and his wife joined the lawsuit in their capacity as private individuals and voters who did not want their information made public.

Although he has said he has supported well-meaning electoral reform in the past, the subpoena and resulting lawsuit make him question the purpose of the investigation.

“We support the motion to dismiss,” he said. “At one point, I had a big feeling. [the subpoena] It was urgent and something had to be done now. And now we’re a year on and nothing has been released so I guess the emergency is over. ”

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