Still no Explanation From Governor Despite Reports That Senior Advisor Knew of Sexual Misconduct Allegations Prior to Tim Solobay’s Appointment
This past weekend Governor Wolf continued his practice of condemning sexual harassment by leaders outside of Pennsylvania’s executive branch, calling for the resignation of Congressman Pat Meehan. Wolf said Meehan’s alleged sexual harassment should be, “investigated from top to bottom” (Twitter, 1/20/18). These latest comments come as it has been over three weeks since Pennsylvania Fire Commissioner Tim Solobay suddenly resigned, when it was reported by PennLive that he was accused of sexually harassing a staffer in his state senate office in 2011.
In its December 31 report, PennLive noted that Solobay was appointed to his cabinet post despite the fact that Mary Isenhour, an senior advisor to Governor Wolf, had prior knowledge of the allegations. Since this information was made public, however, Governor Wolf has issued no explanation as to whether or not Isenhour informed him of the accusations before Solobay was appointed as Fire Commissioner.
Scott Wagner views sexual assault in the workplace as unacceptable, and applauds Governor Wolf for speaking out against it. However, he wishes the Governor would hold his own branch of government to the same standard and explain how Solobay came to be hired despite Isenhour having knowledge of the allegations. Surely an administration with a zero tolerance policy for sexual harassment should want to correct the record and provide that information to the people of Pennsylvania.
Solobay’s is not the only case the Governor has refrained from commenting on. As The Caucus reported in December, there are currently “four pending sexual harassment related lawsuits filed by women against the state police.” The Associated Press also reported that, “state government agencies fielded 339 reports of alleged sexual harassment over a recent five-year period.” Governor Wolf has not yet provided further details on those cases and what knowledge he had of any of them.
According to PennLive, “A handful of women did confirm to PennLive that Moore told them about her complaint, if not every detail, in the days immediately following the incident. Mary Isenhour, a member of Wolf’s campaign team who is friends with both Moore and Solobay, said she immediately encouraged Moore to make her Senate supervisors aware of the issue.” (PennLive, 12/31/17)
Therefore, Isenhour, who was serving as Co-Chair of Governor Wolf’s Inaugural Committee and had been announced as the Secretary of Legislative Affairs at the time of Soloby’s appointment, knew about the incident since 2011. Isenhour later went on to become Wolf’s Chief of Staff and is currently working on his reelection campaign.
June 0f 2011 – Solobay allegedly sexually harasses Rachel Moore. Moore informs Isenhour “in the days immediately following the incident.”
November 24, 2014 – Isenhour named Co-Chair of Inaugural Committee
December 10, 2014 – Isenhour announced among “Key Staff” – Secretary of Legislative Affairs
January 15, 2015 – Solobay appointed as Fire Commissioner
July 23, 2015 – Isenhour named Chief of Staff
January 31, 2017 – Isenhour steps down as Chief of Staff to join campaign effort
One of two possible scenarios must have occurred – Isenhour either told Wolf about the allegations against Solobay and the Governor appointed him anyway, or Isenhour suppressed the information in an effort to make sure a political ally was given a cabinet post at the expense of a qualified, 14 year commissioner who served under four different governors from both political parties.