AG Shapiro's office: No charges against Sen. Wagner or campaign tracker in scuffle

No charges will be filed against state Sen. Scott Wagner (R., York) over his confrontation in May with a campaign tracker. (MICHAEL PRONZATO / Staff)

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s office will not bring criminal charges against State Sen. Scott Wagner, a Republican who has announced a run for governor, over his scuffle last month with a campaign tracker.

“While both men acted inappropriately and, as a public official Sen. Wagner should have maintained proper civil discourse and controlled his anger, the facts, circumstances, and conduct do not rise to the level where the Attorney General’s Office will pursue criminal charges,” Michelle Henry, the first assistant attorney general, said in a statement.

The decision stems from Wagner’s headline-grabbing confrontation last month with a campaign tracker for American Bridge 21st Century, a liberal-leaning organization that describes itself as “holding Republicans accountable for their words and actions.”

The tracker, whom Henry identified in her statement as Chris Van Leeuwen, followed Wagner to a luncheon at a private country club in York to record his speech

Upon spotting him, Wagner became visibly annoyed.

“You’re about to see your senator in action,” Wagner told the crowd, before striding over to the tracker and grabbing his camera equipment.

The tracker recorded that incident, and then continued recording Wagner with his cellphone as he followed Wagner around the club trying to get his equipment back. Though the camera was later returned, American Bridge said at the time that it had not been given back the camera’s memory card.

On that video. Wagner can be seen moving to block the cellphone camera, leaving the tracker complaining of an assault that left him with a bloody finger.

Shortly after the incident, an American Bridge spokeswoman called Wagner “unhinged.” Wagner defended his actions, saying the tracker entered the country club illegally and had no right to be there.

American Bridge was founded by David Brock, a right-wing operative-turned-liberal activist who was a staunch supporter of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during last year’s presidential campaign.

Shapiro’s office took over the investigation into Wagner’s confrontation last month at the request of the York County District Attorney’s office. The District Attorney there, Tom Kearney, is a longtime Wagner friend.