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Pa. Senate Ethics Committee will not investigate Mastriano insurrection allegations

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Peter Hall, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
March 7, 2024

The Pennsylvania Senate Ethics Committee will not act on a complaint against state Sen. Doug Mastriano that alleged the Franklin County Republican was part of the plot to overturn the 2020 presidential election.

Sen. Art Haywood, who made the complaint in January, said in a news conference live streamed from his Facebook page that he was informed by letter that the committee will not investigate Mastriano’s involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection and the events leading up to it.

“I’m very disappointed that the Ethics Committee reached a conclusion that no investigation was going to happen. And it is a terrible statement, in my opinion, about the body,” Haywood said.

Haywood said the letter he received did not contain information about how the committee reached its decision or how its members voted. He added that the letter was marked confidential and that he could not release it. 

A spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward (R-Westmoreland) told the Capital-Star that Senate rules prohibit her from commenting on actions of the Ethics Committee. A spokesperson for Mastriano did not respond to a request for comment.

Haywood’s complaint was based on the research of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a nonprofit group that takes legal action against government officials who use their positions to benefit themselves or special interests. 

The complaint cited public records to support allegations that Mastriano:

  • Used his office as a senator to conduct a hearing at which advisors of former President Donald Trump gave false testimony;
  • Organized rallies where he appeared with state and federal elected officials to falsely claim the results of 2020 presidential election were not legitimate;
  • Led efforts to pressure and intimidate government officials to overturn the election results; and
  • Participated in the gathering on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol where supporters incited by Trump violently stormed the Capitol in an attempt to prevent the certification of election results by Congress.

Mastriano, who lost his 2022 gubernatorial campaign to Gov. Josh Shapiro, held a hearing in Gettysburg after the November 2020 election in which Trump lawyers Jenna Ellis and Rudy Giuliani presented claims of violations of voting laws in Pennsylvania, which have since been shown to be false.

He also served as the Trump campaign’s “point person” in Pennsylvania in the scheme to present slates of fake electors to pressure Vice President Mike Pence to declare the results in dispute.

Records published in November by the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., show Mastriano was among the Pennsylvania lawmakers with whom U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R-10th District) had contact as he worked with Trump campaign officials to sow doubt and build support to reverse the election results.

Perry has fought efforts by Justice Department Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating the insurrection, to obtain data copied from Perry’s cellphone after it was seized by the FBI. 

And, CREW said, Mastriano incited violent opposition to the legitimate election results in the days leading to the insurrection by using language outside of Democratic norms encouraging his supporters to seize power.

“Mastriano contributed to the atmosphere of political violence and the notion that it can be warranted in a sanctioned context, like war,” the CREW report said.

Haywood said in his news conference Thursday that he believed those who supported the complaint fulfilled their duties as members of the Senate. 

“I believe at a minimum the warning was delivered to all members that the Senate does have ethical standards and they should not be violated. If they are called into question, there will be some level of accountability and not just allowing this kind of behavior to go forward unnoticed,” Haywood said.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: info@penncapital-star.com. Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.