Lt. Gov. Stack under scrutiny by Pa. Inspector General

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By custom, lieutenant governors are supposed to keep a low profile and, above all, avoid embarrassing the boss.

Now, Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. Mike Stack and his wife Tonya are drawing unwanted attention: a state inspector general’s investigation into complaints they verbally abused members of their state police security detail and household staff at their official residence northeast of Harrisburg.

And Gov. Wolf asked for the probe, according to two sources familiar with the matter.

State troopers and employees working at the lieutenant governor’s mansion at Ft. Indiantown Gap complained that the Stacks often yelled at them, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss it.

Stack’s office didn’t dispute such an inquiry was underway. It was first reported Monday by The Caucus, a weekly publication of LNP Media Group, and by ABC27 News in Harrisburg.

“We are in receipt of a letter from the Inspector General in regards to staffing issues,” Matt Franchak, the lieutenant governor’s chief of staff said in a statement Monday evening. “We have no further details on the investigation and have no further comment at this time.”

At first glance, news of the investigation looked awkward, considering Stack and Wolf are expected to run together for reelection next year. But the two men are not close.

Wolf didn’t choose Stack, 53, a former state senator from Northeast Philadelphia, as his running mate, Democratic voters did. Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in party primaries and then as pairs in the general election.

J.J. Abbott, Wolf’s spokesman, declined to comment, as did Inspector General Bruce Beemer, a gubernatorial appointee. 

Stack grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, the son of a ward leader. He served in the Army National Guard as a lawyer and was elected to the state Senate in 2001, representing the 5th District until he took over as lieutenant governor.

When in Harrisburg, he and his wife live in a 2,500-square-foot fieldstone house on the grounds of the historic fort, home of the Pennsylvania National Guard. It has a swimming pool and a five-car garage, with a staff of six state employees who manage the property and cook. The lieutenant governor and his wife are driven and accompanied by state police troopers. 

OIG will issue a public report confirming the allegations or clearing the Stacks. The office is not obligated to disclose its findings, but sometimes does. The agency has limited prosecutorial power but can refer cases of government waste or fraud to other law enforcement agencies. 

Earlier this year, for example, the OIG released the results of an investigation documenting cheating and other problems at the state police academy.

Stack is no stranger to controversy. He requested language in a draft of last year’s budget authorizing state police who drive him and other “dignitaries” to use flashing lights and sirens to clear traffic.  Current law allows such warnings only in emergencies. Wolf administration officials asked lawmakers to strike the provision.

In 2015, Tonya Stack made headlines after an altercation with state Rep. Kevin Boyle (D.,Phila.)

In the 2014 primary for lieutenant governor, Stack was the only Philadelphian on the ballot, an advantage because candidates’ home counties are listed with their names. He beat four other Democratic contenders with 48 percent of the vote.

Stack is rarely seen in public with Wolf, a pattern that began during their campaign. By contrast,  Republican Gov. Tom Corbett gave significant political and policy assignments to Lt. Gov. Jim Cawley. As lieutenant governor, Stack’s duties include presiding over the state Senate and heading the Board of Pardons.

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