Sources: Stack's office warned about mistreatment of state workers

Mike Stack at a news conference Wednesday in his Capitol office.

HARRISBURG – Aides to Gov. Wolf notified Lt. Gov. Mike Stack's office multiple times about complaints that Stack and his wife had berated, threatened, or mistreated the state troopers who guard them as well as the employees who maintain their official government residence, according to three sources familiar with the matter.

Only after the complaints continued did Wolf take the unusual step of asking the Office of Inspector General to launch a formal inquiry into the claims, said the sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

"This was not a surprise,” one said. “The lieutenant governor was very aware of the situation."

News of the probe surfaced this week. In a news conference at his office Wednesday, Stack declined to discuss details of the complaints, but apologized for any conduct by him or his wife, Tonya, that he said might have offended or hurt troopers or state workers. He that pledged they would try harder.

Stack, a Northeast Philadelphia Democrat, also didn't let on that any warnings had occurred. Asked Wednesday by a reporter if he was surprised that Wolf didn't speak with him before asking the inspector general for an investigation, the lieutenant governor replied:  "That's not really important. The important thing is, we have some issues that need to be addressed."

Asked for comment Friday, Stack's office responded with a statement: “Lt. Gov. Stack has publicly accepted responsibility and apologized for his mistakes and is taking steps to correct them.  The letter we received from the Office of Inspector General specifically stated ‘confidentiality is essential to ensure that the investigation can be conducted fairly. … As such, I would ask that you not discuss this matter with anyone other than OIG personnel.’  Therefore, we have no further comment on details of the investigation out of respect for the process and the Office of Inspector General.”

The complaints about the Stacks' behavior began more than six months ago, the sources said. Among them was that the Stacks would get unreasonably and profanely angry when troopers assigned to drive them refused to turn on their state-issued vehicles' flashing emergency lights to cut through traffic and get to events more quickly.

Last summer, sources said, Stack sought to have the legislature allow him and other "dignitaries" to activate the sirens and flashing lights when being driven to events including the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Wolf's office had the move quashed.

Since then, Stack's aides were informed more than once of the complaints about the treatment of state workers, and were asked to remedy the situation. But they did not, the sources said, so the governor decided to turn the matter over to the Office of Inspector General, now run by former Attorney General Bruce Beemer.

Both Wolf and Beemer have declined to discuss the claims or the investigation. The governor said he would have nothing to say until he received and reviewed the inspector general’s report.

Stack, 53, a former state senator, won the lieutenant governor’s job in 2014 after finishing first in a crowded Democratic primary. When in Harrisburg, he and his wife live in a 2,500-square-foot fieldstone house, managed by two state employees, on the grounds of Fort Indiantown Gap, northeast of the capital.

He and Wolf, a 68-year-old businessman from York, are not believed to be close, but both have been expected to run together for reelection in what could be a tough race next year.

It was not clear when Beemer’s office would finish its probe or whether its findings would be made public. The agency typically focuses on matters of waste, fraud, and misconduct in state government. It lacks authority to charge or prosecute crimes but can refer its findings to a law enforcement agency.