As Auditor General Eugene DePasquale’s second term winds down, the Pennsylvania Republican Party’s interest is ramping up.
DePasquale’s name surfaced in March as a possible challenger to Rep. Scott Perry (R-York). He told PoliticsPA that he hopes to hold another public office after his term as Auditor ends, although he said he had not yet decided which.
The PAGOP is not waiting to find out. The party this week filed a Right To Know Request to learn the costs associated with DePasquale’s recent public events in an effort to characterize his official publicity as a campaign asset. The GOP announcement points to the fact that events from DePasquale’s role as Auditor General appear on his campaign website.
“Eugene DePasquale might think of himself as the state’s fiscal watchdog, but he does not seem to think twice about using taxpayer dollars as a means to boost his personal political profile in advance of his next campaign,” said PAGOP Chairman Val DiGiorgio. “As the days he has left in office decrease, it seems as though the number of press conferences and press events held by the Auditor General increase, with positive coverage of those events then put on Eugene DePasquale’s campaign website and social media channels.”
DePasquale has produced reports – typically announced at press conferences – that criticize a bipartisan array of subjects. Past targets include charter schools, welfare fraud, a backlog of rape kits, various state government agencies, an abortion-alternative service provider and more. News coverage of his efforts has been almost uniformly positive during his two terms in office. In a 2015 release, the PAGOP used one of his reports to criticize Gov. Tom Wolf over school funding.
DePasquale did not immediately respond for comment for this story.
The sudden burst of interest from the PAGOP follows 7 years of benign neglect for the statewide Democratic official. According to a review of PoliticsPA’s archive of press releases, the party did not send a single one targeting DePasquale between his election in 2012 and the day he emerged as a possible PA10 contender in 2019.
Party spokesman Jason Gottesman acknowledged the shift.
“Auditor General DePasquale has made it abundantly and publicly clear that he intends to seek other political office as he becomes term limited here,” he said. “What that campaign is for, he has not said and we don’t know, but as the Republican Party, until he makes that clear and even afterwards, it’s incumbent upon us to be the voice that points out to taxpayers and voters that his record and frankly his history of political ladder climbing to the voters so they can make an informed decision about his future prospects.”
“So I mean, yes, are we pointing things out as he is gearing up for some sort of a campaign, be it for 2020 or afterwards, yes, but he’s also bringing that onto himself by holding himself out there as a candidate in the short term or the long term,” he continued.
DePasquale has long been considered a prospective candidate for higher office and his name is in the mix for Governor and U.S. Senate in 2022, as well as PA10 in 2020. A Pittsburgh native and longtime York resident, he originally made a name for himself as a reform-minded State Representative. He was the first State Rep to publish expenses and receipts for his office. He won the Auditor office by 3 points in 2012 and re-election by 5 points in 2016.