HARRISBURG, Pa. — Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration has 30 days to produce copies of more emails sent or received by Katie McGinty when she was his chief of staff, before she ran for U.S. Senate, a Pennsylvania court ruled Friday.
The emails, sought by the state Republican Party, do not have to be released before the Nov. 8 election.
The Commonwealth Court’s ruling upholds a decision by the Office of Open Records. A Republican Party official made the original request for the emails under Pennsylvania’s open records law last summer when McGinty was preparing to run for U.S. Senate.
McGinty left Wolf’s office in July last year and is challenging the re-election bid by Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.
Toomey, a first-term senator, is one of the most vulnerable Republicans as the GOP struggles to hold onto its Senate majority. A McGinty victory could tip Senate control to Democrats.
The 30-day timeframe to respond virtually ensures that the emails would not become public before the election.
The Wolf administration would not say Friday whether it will appeal the decision to the state Supreme Court. It has 30 days to appeal, a move that also would virtually ensure that the emails are not released before the election.
Wolf’s administration had told the Office of Open Records that it withheld some emails because they fell under exemptions shielding personal emails or deliberations leading up to an official decision. But the Office of Open Records said the administration hadn’t sufficiently proven that those emails should be exempt for those reasons.
It did allow the Wolf administration to withhold some emails under an attorney-client exemption.
Wolf’s press secretary Jeff Sheridan said in a one-sentence statement that the administration was reviewing the court’s decision “and will take appropriate action once that review is complete.”
McGinty’s campaign spokesman said in an email that McGinty “is always on the side of transparency,” but he did not respond to a follow-up email asking whether McGinty has asked the Wolf administration to release the emails.
The state Republican Party said that, to date, 71 out of 15,000 pages of emails dug up in response to its request have been publicly released.
The decision focused on the GOP’s request for emails from Jan. 20, 2015, the beginning of McGinty’s tenure as chief of staff, through July 7, 2015.
“The time has come for Governor Tom Wolf to stop hiding Katie McGinty’s emails from the public,” GOP spokeswoman Megan Sweeney said in a statement. “For the past sixteen months, Katie McGinty has been able to hide her email behind a taxpayer-funded group of government lawyers.”