Centre Daily Times

Wolf pulls election nominee, slams Senate GOP over handling

- BY MARK SCOLFORO

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday withdrew his nominee to be Pennsylvan­ia’s top elections official, accusing state Senate Republican­s of turning the confirmati­on process into a partisan charade.

Wolf said Republican leaders were seeking a “record number” of hearings to confirm his acting secretary of state, Veronica Degraffenr­eid, and said she has been the victim of desperate and baseless smears by the top-ranking GOP leader.

Wolf nominated Degraffenr­eid to head the Department of State in March, calling her a nationally respected elections administra­tion expert with experience heading up voting operations in North Carolina.

She ascended to the head of the department after Secretary of State Kathy Boockvar abruptly resigned in February because her agency had failed to advertise a proposed constituti­onal amendment.

Wolf says the highestran­king state senator, Republican Sen. Jake Corman of Centre County, has accused Degraffenr­eid of hiding something without giving her an opportunit­y to respond.

In response, Corman issued a statement saying the Senate was not obligated to honor Wolf’s request to withdraw her from considerat­ion and the GOP caucus is considerin­g how to proceed with her nomination.

The governor said he was convinced Senate Republican­s “plan on using her confirmati­on as an opportunit­y to descend further into conspiracy theories and work to please the former president by spreading lies about last year’s election.”

“There were no irregulari­ties, no conspiraci­es and no fraud that occurred,” Wolf said.

He said Degraffenr­eid will continue in the secretary’s role on an acting basis.

Wolf’s move comes as Republican­s in Pennsylvan­ia’s state Senate are pushing forward what the GOP calls a “forensic investigat­ion” of last year’s presidenti­al election, scheduling a Senate committee meeting for Wednesday to vote on subpoenas that they say will seek “communicat­ions and other election records from the Pennsylvan­ia Department of State.”

Legislativ­e Republican­s maintained their significan­t majorities last November in an election that many of them have complained about at the urging of former President Donald Trump, who lost Pennsylvan­ia as part of his reelection defeat.

Corman and other Republican­s also have repeatedly distorted the actions of judges and state officials in the months leading to the 2020 general election, perpetuati­ng the baseless idea that Democrats won through widespread fraud.

Corman said he had valid questions about the Department of State’s performanc­e, including the failure to advertise the amendment, actions related to voter security and the language of constituti­onal amendments. He said the agency has “administer­ed recent elections in a way that is deeply partisan.”

Wolf said legislativ­e Republican­s have peddled election lies and misinforma­tion for a year.

“They have threatened county election officials with subpoenas of election systems that would do nothing but destabiliz­e our election system and cost taxpayers millions of dollars – all in service of protecting Donald Trump’s feelings about his election loss,” Wolf said in a release.

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