PA-Gov: Wolf Spokesman Denounces Arneson Decision
Just hours after the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court reinstated Erik Arneson as Director of the Office of Open Records, Gov. Tom Wolf’s office issued a statement criticizing the decision and promising an appeal.
“Governor Wolf’s position regarding his removal of Erik Arneson as executive director of the Office of Open Records has not changed,” writes Jeffrey Sheridan, the Governor’s press secretary. “We disagree with the decision of the Commonwealth Court and will file an appeal, which under the law automatically stays the court’s decision.”
Sheridan said that they expect the Office of the Attorney General to file the appeal papers “later this afternoon,” June 10th.
Sheridan confirmed that Wolf was “within his rights to remove Arneson,” who was appointed to the position by former Gov. Tom Corbett in January 2015. Wolf was immediately skeptical of the process, calling the last-minute appointment “opaque.” He removed Arneson from the post just days after his inaugural.
In his statement, Sheridan called out the “hypocrisy” of Senate Republicans who have have called on the Wolf administration to save taxpayer money by dropping the appeal.
“Taxpayers deserve to know how much Legislative Republicans have spent on outside legal costs associated with actions taken against the Wolf Administration,” Sheridan wrote. Sheridan noted that the Republicans have filed the Arneson v. Wolf case alongside Mr. Arnesen, despite the fact that he is already represented by Lamb McErlane, PC.
“It was entirely unnecessary (and dubious) for the Senate Republican Caucus to file this action along with Mr. Arneson who is challenging his removal [from his position,]” Sheridan said. “Mr. Arneson is the true party in interest in this case, not the Senate.”
Sheridan said that the Republicans have also intervened in the Markham v. Wolf case, and that they will be represented by McErlane.
Sheridan ended his statement with excerpts from the dissenting opinion of President Judge Pellegrini. Pellegrini cited the “supreme executive power” vested in the Governor by the state’s Constitution, and argued that the majority was twisting constitutional language to justify their decision.
“The plain language of the Constitution does not fall away when it comes in conflict with what the majority considers the ‘higher good,’” Pellegrini said.