by Sharon Rondeau
(Aug. 25, 2021) — On Wednesday afternoon, Pennsylvania State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-Adams, Cumberland, Franklin, York) tweeted the image of a press release in which he accused fellow Republican and Senate Pro Tempore President Jake Corman of making “false statements” and stripping him of his committee chairmanship and staff over the forensic election audit Mastriano attempted to launch in early July.
Mastriano referred to an August 20 statement he attributed to Corman in which Corman allegedly “claimed that he was replacing me as lead for the audit because I was ‘retreating, grandstanding, and uninterested in getting things done.’
“Senator Corman is not being honest,” Mastriano alleged.
Pennsylvania’s legislature holds a Republican majority, but its governor, Tom Wolf, is a Democrat. Earlier this summer, the legislature passed an election-reform bill which Wolf vetoed on the grounds that it “limited mail ballots,” “capped early voting,” “cut voter registration time,” and “restricted the freedom to vote.”
An undated report posted on Corman’s website recounts three public hearings (p. 4) by the Senate Special Committee on Election Integrity and Reform focusing on the 2020 general election. Included in the report is testimony from a representative from the Department of State, the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, elections officials from eight counties and three other states.
Corman acted as “ex-officio” on the committee.
On page 8, the report states that Allegheny County “received $2 million through a grant
from the Center for Civic Life,” a likely reference to the “Center for Tech and Civic Life,” which was funded to a reported $400 million last fall by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan.
A CTCL October 13 press release begins:
The Center for Tech and Civic Life (CTCL) announced today that Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg have responded to unprecedented demand for support from local election jurisdictions across the country by committing an additional $100 million to promote safe and reliable voting. Given the lack of public funds and unique challenges to election administration due to the COVID-19 pandemic, demand for the funds is on track to surpass the $300 million Chan and Zuckerberg committed to states and localities on September 1st. This new commitment will also ensure that election administrators are fully funded despite a number of legal challenges that have been filed to try to undermine their efforts.
On December 26, “American Thought Leaders,” a production of The Epoch Times, reported via an interview with former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who now heads the Amistad Project of the Thomas More Society, “Kline argues that hundreds of millions of dollars were donated by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to nonprofits, which used them in ways that compromised election standards. According to an Amistad Project report, election officials who received Zuckerberg’s money put their thumbs on the scale by trying to increase voter turnout in only democratic strongholds.”
Prior to the election, Kline filed suit in numerous states over the grants, alleging they violate the U.S. Constitution. Reporting for The (SC) State via MSN on October 25, Zak Koeske wrote that Kline sued Richland and Charleston Counties and that:
The counties received $730,000 and $695,000, respectively, in grant funding from the Center for Tech and Civic Life earlier this year.
In Richland, the majority of that money was earmarked for a ballot counting machine and a mail sorting machine intended to aid in processing the anticipated surge in absentee ballots. The rest of the money was slated for additional voting machines and advertising to promote absentee voting.
It wasn’t immediately clear if all of the grant money had already been spent.
Charleston County elections Director Joe Debney said Friday that he’d used the grant money his office received to recruit and pay poll workers, open an additional absentee voting site and post signage across the county to promote absentee voting and voter registration efforts.
“The truth is we spent months briefing Senator Corman and other leadership on our plan,” Mastriano’s press release continues. “During those many months, Senator Corman either avoided me or repeatedly stonewalled us.”
Elaborating, Mastriano claimed on July 6, Corman “demanded that I NOT send” letters to three counties he planned to audit, although, in fact, the letters were sent the following day with the agreement of his committee, Mastriano said. On July 8, the Pennsylvania Department of State ordered county election personnel not to cooperate with requests for voting equipment and other materials from “third parties.”
Mastriano provided a July 31 deadline to the three counties to comply, which he referenced.
Corman obstructed two meetings scheduled to discuss issuing subpoenas for the requested materials, Mastriano claimed, labeling Corman “someone not wanting an audit.” “If there was someone ‘retreating’ from an investigation, it was Senator Corman,” Mastriano contended, comparing Corman’s “22-year career as a politician” to his own “30 years in the U.S. Army.” “I served along the Iron Curtain, and I thought in Iraq and Afghanistan. I never retreated in the face of evil, and I was not going to retreat in the face of Corman’s repeated attempts to thwart a forensic investigation.”
On August 20, Mastriano wrote, he revealed the alleged difficulties with Corman in a two-page press release in which he claimed Corman “blocked” the investigation, reassigned Mastriano’s Harrisburg staffers, and was rumored to be considering removing Mastriano from his chairmanship of the Intergovernmental Operations Committee.
While Corman’s spokesman responded to our June 14 request for comment from The Post & Email, it did not respond after we contacted him on August 20 regarding Mastriano’s allegations.
On June 14, 45th President of the United States Donald J. Trump accused Corman of “fighting” an election audit “as though he were a Radical Left Democrat, saying that a Forensic Audit of Pennsylvania not take place…”
Corman’s spokesman, Jason Thompson, had pointed to the Special Committee’s post-election hearings and report but offered “no comment” on Trump’s allegation.
“I don’t know why Senator Corman obstructed my investigation for so long or why he has now hijacked it,” Mastriano wrote. “What I do know is that if it was up to Senator Corman, there would be no investigation for him to steal.”
A request for comment was sent to Corman’s office at 7:40 p.m. EDT.