Lt. governor apologizes for angry remarks amid investigation
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor apologized Wednesday in the face of an investigation by the inspector general’s office, but provided scant details about what he feels he did wrong.
Democratic Lt. Gov. Mike Stack said he has said “things in anger or stress or frustration” that he wishes he hadn’t said.
“Any person who goes through life and gets stressed, I think, will say things that they don’t mean and they say things out of anger, and I’m no exception,” Stack said. “That’s not an excuse. That’s not a reason that’s acceptable. The bottom line is, I know that I’ve said things in anger that I wish I could take back, that I didn’t mean.”
Stack summoned reporters to his Capitol offices to address reports of an investigation into how he and his wife have treated the troopers and state workers who guard and serve them. He said the inspector general’s office notified him by letter of the probe a few days ago.
He said its focus is on how he interacts with troopers detailed to protect him and the people who work in the lieutenant governor’s official residence. Stack and his wife, Tonya, live in a state-owned house at Fort Indiantown Gap, the state National Guard headquarters about 20 miles east of the Capitol.
He addressed reports that he or his wife may have pressured state troopers to use their sirens when transporting them and acknowledged he supported a failed proposal to change state law to specifically allow troopers to use flashing lights and sirens when transporting dignitaries such as the lieutenant governor.
“If I’ve ever said something in anger or frustration, being in a rush, something like that, where a state trooper felt I was telling them how to drive or how to operate their emergency response procedures, if I ever gave that impression I was wrong,” Stack said. “And I apologize. But one thing I want you to know, as I said, these guys are the boss. They have all the training. They make the decisions. And they should.”
Stack did not provide any examples of what he did wrong, but said he did not believe anything he said would be considered abusive.
The chairman of the state Republican Party issued a statement that said he was disturbed to see reports Stack “lambasted” state workers and that he was concerned about Stack’s dealings with troopers.
“Sadly, arrogance and corruption among Democrat public officials, especially those from Philadelphia, is becoming more and more common these days,” said GOP chair Val DiGiorgio.
Stack, 53, is a former state senator from Philadelphia who was elected more than two years ago.
In Pennsylvania, candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run independently in the primaries and, once elected, hold what are considered independent offices.
Stack said he plans to run for a second term next year, as does Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf.
Wolf’s office said he had not received a report about the investigation from his inspector general and won’t comment before he’s able to review it.
State officials say the cost to staff and maintain the lieutenant governor’s residence is about $450,000 annually. Stack’s salary is $162,000 a year, and his duties include presiding over the state Senate, considering pardons applications and overseeing the Emergency Management Council.
Messages left for the inspector general’s office weren’t returned.