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Sen. Wagner: Lobbying firm behind allegations

Written by Flint McColgan, York Daily Record | Mar 15, 2016 4:04 PM
scott_wagner1.jpg

Republican state Senator Scott Wagner of York County. (Robert J. Gurecki -- Daily Times)

Harrisburg firm promotes different candidate than Wagner in state Senate race.

(York) -- State Sen. Scott Wagner introduced a new name to the story of allegations that his staff made offers to a state Senate candidate if he would drop out of the race.

In the latest of the Republican state senator's emails from his campaign account, Wagner accused Harrisburg lobbying firm Long Nyquist and Associates, "supposedly a Republican lobbying firm," of "pushing this story to the media" because of the firm's support of another candidate in the race, who he does not mention in the email.

Michael S. Long, a co-founder of and partner at the firm, said the business had no comment on Wagner's allegations. He did confirm that they are working for the campaign of Cumberland County candidate and former NFL player Jon Ritchie. Mike Barley, an associate with the firm, characterized the work as general consultation.

Scott Harper, a Washington Township attorney and one of the four Republicans running to replace retiring state Sen. Pat Vance, alleged to various media organizations that Jason High, Wagner's chief of staff, offered Harper state-related legal work or even a possible judgeship if he would drop out of the race.

As Harper tells it, he had first been contacted by Matthew Plummer, the campaign manager for rival candidate Brice Arndt of Cumberland County and principal at PennPhoenix Partners, a Harrisburg firm designed to "empower conservative candidates and entrepreneurs who grow business without government," according to its website. At that meeting, the idea of a possible judgeship in exchange for his dropping out of the Senate race surfaced, he said.

Plummer, in a widely distributed email, made clear that he had met with Harper and set up a meeting with High and Wagner on his own and not as a member of the Arndt campaign. Plummer's email was the first time word surfaced of the allegations.

There was then a meeting at the Capitol building in Harrisburg with High and Plummer where Harper said the pair "discussed the judgeship offer again and possibly getting some of-counsel work thrown my way if I dropped out ... However, Jason's offers were very vague sounding and almost laughable."

Neither High nor Plummer have returned requests for comment on these allegations.

Harper said he then got to meet with Wagner where the latter said that he had asked the candidate to drop out because Harper was "diluting the race," something Wagner denies.

Harper said that his dropping out would help state Rep. Mike Regan's chance at winning the race because then the Carroll Township resident would be the only York County candidate left in the race. York County shares the 31st Pennsylvania Senatorial District with Cumberland County, where candidates Arndt and Jon Ritchie are from.

Wagner said previously that he supports Regan for the position but has not and will not make an official endorsement.

Harper said that phone polling indicates that his dropping out would help both Regan and Arndt but does nothing to the Ritchie campaign.

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between York Daily Record and WITF. 

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