- Associated Press - Friday, May 8, 2015

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - Pennsylvania’s Democratic governor and Republican Senate leader traded harsh words Friday over the fate of 12 gubernatorial nominations that have been stuck in limbo since January.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced Thursday he had sent the nominees and five others to the Senate, referring to a deal with Majority Leader Jake Corman for them to be considered.

Corman, R-Centre, responded Friday with a news release that accused the governor of a “complete mischaracterization” and said his staff told the governor’s aides he hadn’t agreed to the process.

“Never in my 17 years in the Senate has a governor - Republican or Democrat - shown this type of disrespect for a member of the General Assembly,” Corman said.

Corman said he did not commit the Senate to confirming the 12, but Wolf’s press release said only that he looked forward to the nominees advancing. He also thanked Corman for working together on a compromise.

Wolf spokesman Jeff Sheridan accused Corman of breaking his word, calling it part of a pattern that indicates Corman isn’t willing to work with Wolf.

“The governor comes from the business world, where an agreement means something, and it means something in the real world, too,” Sheridan said Friday. “Going back on your word may be acceptable in Harrisburg, especially when you’ve been here for 17 years as Corman has, but that is why people have a distaste for Harrisburg.”

The stalemate dates to the waning days of Republican Gov. Tom Corbett’s term, when Corbett made nominations that Wolf moved to halt shortly after he took office, and at the same time fired Erik Arneson, who Corbett had just appointed to the head of the Office of Open Records. Arneson’s firing is the subject of a pending state court case also that pits Wolf against the Senate Republicans.

In early March, Corman aide Dave Thomas told Senate Republicans they had reached a deal to return 12 of the 28 Corbett nominations to Wolf so that he could pick new nominees. Thomas said Friday that Mary Isenhour, the governor’s legislative affairs secretary, insisted their deal was that the Senate would confirm all 12.

“I had multiple conversations with Mary Isenhour this week, and in every conversation she said they believe our part of the deal was that we agreed to confirm whoever they sent over,” Thomas said.

Isenhour disputed his account. She said she told Thomas earlier this week that the administration wanted to send the Senate the 12 nominations and Thomas asked for more time. By Thursday, the administration sent them over.

“Never once did I say that we expected them to confirm,” Isenhour said. “I mean, we hope they will be confirmed.”

Corman spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said Friday that Wolf has taken actions without giving Senate Republicans the courtesy of advanced notice.

“It’s just interesting that the campaign speeches that the governor makes don’t match the actions of the governor,” Kocher said. “He talks about working together, but yet he just continues to play politics. He claims to be a different kind of governor, and the way that this is different is that no other governor would have shown such disrespect for the members of the General Assembly.”

The 17 names that Wolf submitted to the Senate on Thursday include people to serve on the state boards of education and parole, the state university system board and the boards of Temple and Pitt.

The dispute come as Wolf’s Cabinet nominees are moving through the Senate’s confirmation process, and senators have indicated at least one of them, acting State Police Commissioner Marcus Brown, may not have the votes to be confirmed.

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