January 26, 2015

Reports: Senate GOP Sues Wolf Over Firing Of Open Records Director

Several media outlets Monday reported Senate Republicans have filed a lawsuit against Gov. Wolf over his firing of Erik Arneson who was appointed by outgoing Gov. Corbett to be Director of the Office of Open Records.
“The Governor's assault on the independence of the Executive Director offends the separation of powers principles in the Pennsylvania Constitution and violates the express statutory independence of the Executive Director,” according to the Senate Republicans' lawsuit against Wolf, the Department of Community and Economic Development and the Office of Open Records (OOR).
Although the Wolf administration has not yet responded to requests for comment about this most recent development in the OOR matter, the governor and his administration have maintained they have every right to fire Arneson and appoint a new executive director – which they have said they intend to do after a national search for a new director is conducted.
Gov. Wolf issued the following statement regarding the lawsuit:
“Elected leaders should be open, transparent, and accountable to the people of Pennsylvania. The actions taken by my predecessor in the eleventh hour, when he named Erik Arneson, a longtime Republican staffer, as executive director of the Office of Open Records, were anything but open and transparent.
“With one of his first acts, Mr. Arneson demoted a qualified chief counsel in favor of a Corbett staffer.
“By removing Mr. Arneson, I am standing up against an effort to destroy the integrity of the Office of Open Records and turn it into a political operation. These attempts to change the office, which exists to protect the public’s right to know, are the exact reasons people distrust their state government. When given the choice between protecting the public and playing politics, I will stand with the people of Pennsylvania.
“As a public servant I strive to promote democracy and change the culture in Harrisburg. I will continue to fight for the integrity of the Office of Open Records. Today’s lawsuit does nothing to alter my conviction.”
A copy of the lawsuit is available online.
Lawsuit Challenges Wolf’s Firing Of Open Records Director
Wolf Responds To Open Records Lawsuit