More than five months after announcing his intention to audit Gov. Tom Wolf’s business shutdown waiver program, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale today offered a progress report - not a final report - on his findings. The audit was prompted by numerous statewide examples of inconsistencies when it came to businesses being deemed “essential” (later changed to “life- sustaining) by the governor and thus allowed to remain in operation during initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic while competitors were forced to close. .
State Reps. Keith Gillespie (R-Hellam), Dawn Keefer (R-Dillsburg), Kate Klunk (R-Hanover), Mike Jones (R-York Township) and House Appropriations Committee Majority Chairman Stan Saylor (R-Red Lion) issued the following statement in response to DePasquale’s update:
“We’re glad to finally see a portion of Auditor General DePasquale’s report, although not having a finished product for a project that was announced in late April does raise a few eyebrows.
“What has been discovered to this point comes as no surprise. In discussions with our House and Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle, we’ve heard stories of many a local business being labeled ‘non-essential’ while other businesses were allowed to stay open despite providing the exact same service to the exact same community. The first logical reason that comes to mind is a showing of political favoritism for whatever motive.
“The mystery deepened in early May when, late on a Friday afternoon, the governor rejected a subpoena for records related to the waiver process and released a list of businesses that received approvals to reopen but lacked criteria as well as the names of businesses that were rejected.
“The waiver program was described as having been conducted using ‘shifting sands of changing guidance.’ We tend to agree, although the governor and Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine were not and are still not willing to reveal the guidance and ‘science’ they’ve been using in their decision making.
“Gov. Wolf has frequently framed us as being virtually powerless at the hands of the virus. While we by no means discount the impact of COVID-19, equal treatment of all concerned and a level playing field are not unreasonable expectations, especially when it comes to small businesses, the livelihoods they support and the communities they sustain. In some cases, the governor’s inconsistency has led to the unnecessary demise of family-sustaining jobs, a situation that can’t be undone.”
York County Republican Delegation
Pennsylvania General Assembly
Media Contact: Scott Little