PA-Gov: Court Reinstates Arneson, Wolf to Appeal

Arneson-WolfThe Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court ruled today that the Director of the Office of Open Records be reinstated, a blow to Governor Tom Wolf.

Just days into his tenure, Gov. Wolf rescinded Gov. Corbett’s last minute appointment of Erik Arneson as Executive Director of the Office of Open Records.

Now the Court is ordering that Arneson be reinstated.

“In order for the OOR and the Executive Director to fulfill their quasi-judicial duties in the fairest and most impartial manner possible, they must be viewed outside the sphere of executive branch control and the influence of the Governor’s removal power except for cause,” Judge Patricia McCullough wrote in the majority opinion.

The Governor’s spokesman Jeffrey Sheridan indicated that Wolf’s position hasn’t changed.

“He was in his right to dismiss Erik Arneson, we disagree with the court’s decision and we will file an appeal,” he said.

It is doubtful, though, that Gov. Wolf still views the dispute as “a gift”.

Arneson meanwhile was ecstatic about his victory.

“Today’s decision by the Commonwealth Court is a tremendous step forward for the Office of Open Records,” Arneson stated. “My position has been consistent: The Office of Open Records must be truly independent in order for it to function as it was intended.”

“I very much look forward to establishing a positive working relationship with Governor Wolf and his administration.”

11 Responses

  1. Corbett is a gift that keeps on giving. If he had simply reappointed the well-qualified director of this office when her term expired (as she expressed an interest in-and was supported by Rs) none of this would be happening now. Instead, he waited until end of his administration to award a political favor to this guy. I’m not sure what his qualifications are for the actual job – yes, he helped write the law but that doesn’t mean he’s qualified to perform the job as his predecessor was. I’m convinced Corbett didn’t reappoint her because she spoke out against his bigoted comments during the gay marriage fiasco.

  2. We all ignore the reality that the Legislature could fix this in a minute by passing, with a veto-proof margin, a clarification requiring impeachment or conviction for removal.

  3. @Delco
    Your arguments makes sense for an administrative department directly under the government, but open records is a department that must not be considered under the Governor’s control.

  4. Tom Wolf takes his leadership style from Fredo Corleone. Katie McGinty is obviously the unsuccessful Manchurian Candidate. When will Politicspa do another Hollywood lookalikes article? John Hanger resembles Uncle Feaster with a bad hairpiece.

  5. The McGinty Administration is corrupt, lazy and downright stupid. Wait a minute, when was she elected?

  6. Larry – Judge Leadbetter from SEPA would be banished and disowned by the current GOP as a RINO. Further, her years of experience as a lawyer in private practice and on the Court through multiple administrations, provides her with a long view that is far superior to the hyper-partisan short term political gain views espoused by her brethren in the majority. This split decision sets dangerous precedent that I am sure a majority of the Surpeme Court will address. I applaud Judgse Leadbetter, Pellegrini and McGinley- more people with such understanding and scholarship are needed on the bench. And again, from a political perspective, it is a shame that the State Democratic Party has repeatedly failed in its mission over the last few election cycles and allowed such hyper partisan Republicans like those in the majority to populate this very important court.

  7. Really??? Why can’t Wolf do what he was elected to do instead trying to control people.
    Sorry to say I voted for this fool.

  8. DELCO, your partisan argument fails because one of the dissenters is a Republican. Your argument that Arneson can be removed by Governor McGinty fails because it’s an independent agency. The Governor appoints PUC Commissioners and Parole Board members, but cannot unilaterally remove them. So, it’s not the “tried and true rule of law.”

  9. All elections have consequences…State Democrats have for too long not paid attention to Commonwealth Court or Superior Court, allowing the GOP to populate it with their partisans. It is truly unfortunate. Hopefully Dems will get their act together and win the Commonwealth Court seat in the Fall to maintain some fairness on the court.

    The Lame Duck appointment of Arneson by Governor Corbett and the free legal work given to Mr. Arneson by the PA Senate GOP Caucus was the most blatant form of political payback to try and keep the man employed and reward him for his years of “service” to the GOP caucus in the Senate.

    Simply, appointment by the Governor makes you removable by the Governor. That is the tried and true rule of law.

    The four GOP judges on this particular panel clearly twisted the plain meaning of the words and precedent to fulfill a political need and aim.

    So, all elections have consequences and the chickens are coming home to roost now for the Democrats. Let’s hope the State Supreme Court has a modicum of respect for precedent and rule of law, and not the partisanship exhibited by the majority here, and reverses this dangerous, split decision precedent.

  10. It seems fairly obvious that the Governor should not have the ability to fire the Open Records Chief, period. If the Governor has that ability, then the independence of the Open Records department comes into question vis a vis the Governor’s office. An open records chief who fears for his or her job security will be forced to take political considerations into their decisions, which undermines the entire point of the law. The court made the right decision and Wolf needs to just get over it and move on.

Comments are closed.

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