The Governor’s Office has denied an open records request by the Beaver Countian for information about individuals who are seeking appointments to open judicial seats in Beaver County.

Governor Tom Wolf issued an announcement earlier this year that he was seeking individuals interested in being appointed to fill several judicial vacancies throughout the state, including two positions in Beaver County. The county currently has an open seat for Magisterial District Judge in Ambridge due to the resignation of Andrew Hladio last November, and a position for Common Pleas Judge that became vacant after Deborah Kunselman began serving on the Superior Court in January.

The Beaver Countian submitted a Right-to-Know request to the Governor’s Office on February 17th, seeking copies of “completed questionnaires submitted by individuals currently seeking appointment to Common Pleas Judge or Magisterial District Judge in Beaver County,” and, “any document listing all individuals who are currently seeking appointment.”

The General Counsel’s Office had published a questionnaire on its website for individuals to complete who were seeking judicial appointments. The questionnaire was divided into two sections, one marked “Public” and one marked “Confidential except as may otherwise be required by law.” The “Public” section included general questions such as name, educational background, and basic employment history. The “Confidential” section included questions about taxes and criminal history.

The General Counsel’s Office initially responded to the Beaver Countian’s request on February 27th, invoking a 30-day extension due to the “extent of [the] request.” The final response was received yesterday, denying the request in its entirety by claiming a list of exemptions delineated in the state’s Right-to-Know Law.

“Initially, your request is denied because records of non-criminal investigations are exempt from access under the Right-to-Know Law,” wrote Open Records Officer Marc Eisenstein. “Further, portions of the requested records are protected by attorney-client or attorney work-product privileges.”

Eisenstein wrote that other records in the agency’s possession were being withheld from release because they would “reveal the internal, predecisional deliberations of an agency, its officials or employees.”

The Beaver Countian is currently weighing a possible appeal.

It is unclear when Governor Wolf may appoint individuals to fill the judicial vacancies, which then have to be approved by the Pennsylvania State Senate.

John Paul
John Paul is the founder of the Beaver Countian. He reports full-time for the site, specializing in investigative journalism with an emphasis on public corruption.

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jay eric
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jay eric

Wolf is a grandstanding moron this will not go well for Beaver County.

Raven
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Raven

A brief Googling of Marc Eisenstein, the Governor’s Open Records Officer, reveals that he does this with others. Stonewalling? For example:

“Your request is denied because records of non-criminal investigations are exempt from access,” Marc Eisenstein, the governor’s open records officer, wrote in a denial letter Wednesday. “Similarly, the requested records may be protected by the attorney-client or attorney work-product privileges.”

That was sent to Paul Muschick, Contact Reporter for “The Morning Call,” 3/30/2018. And, similar answers seem to be typical to people who want to know what is up through the Governor’s office. Good luck. Maybe Right-to-Know has become Pay-to-Know or Know-to-Know.

http://www.mcall.com/opinion/muschick/mc-opi-pa-inspector-general-reports-public-records-muschick-20171221-story.html

Stonewall Lozier would be envious of Marc’s work.

Cosmo5150
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Cosmo5150

This is absurd! I am sure it will be reversed and released as it should of been on the 1st attempt. So lets hide who the candidates are so the public can not make a researched decision of how they cast their vote.. and this is coming from a Governor Lol.

John Q Taxpayer
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John Q Taxpayer

Let’s do our best to vote Wolf out. Tired of his bullshit anyway. Tell your friends.

Raven
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Raven

Some guessing:

In my opinion,

Why block or sit on a Right-to-Know request?

The potential judge candidates are (from a former BC article): “…former Chief County Solicitor and “Friendship Ridge” attorney Joseph Askar, Albert Torrence (currently serving as Chief Trial Counsel for the District Attorney’s Office and Solicitor to the County Controller), Laura Tocci (with the law firm of McMillen, Urick, Tocci, & Jones), and Bill Braslawsce (who campaigned for judge in last year’s elections).” Maybe there are others now.

But,

“Attorney Joe Askar held a fundraiser for Governor Wolf at “Friendship Ridge” last May, co-hosted by Commissioner Tony Amadio…”

Or, Marc Eisenstein doesn’t like his job? Or, Marc is lazy? Or, Marc is providing political cover? Or, Marc is just doing Wolf’s requests? Who knows? The Shadow?

Or, maybe I’m just a conspiracy theorist in disguise.

Marsha moore
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Marsha moore

I think you’re right about covering for Askar as a favor for the fundraiser. Eisenstein is just doing what he’s told.

John Q Taxpayer
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John Q Taxpayer

Sweetheart deals made in the same bed.