Pennsylvania Gov. Corbett denies knowing of 'racy' emails

| Thursday, Sept. 4, 2014, 11:00 p.m.

Gov. Tom Corbett on Thursday denied any knowledge of whether members of his staff at the Attorney General's Office circulated pornographic emails in the workplace. Neither would he tolerate them, he said, nor allow a “glass ceiling” culture as alleged in a federal complaint.

“If somebody would have told me when I was attorney general that they were sending inappropriate emails, if I would've seen it, it would've stopped it like that,” Corbett said, snapping his fingers.

A Tribune-Review records request for emails containing pornographic content allegedly circulated among high-ranking attorney general employees during Corbett's tenure is held up under a stay from Cambria County Judge Norman A. Krumenacker III, who oversees a statewide grand jury.

The allegedly inappropriate messages were contained in reconstruction of more than 20 million emails during an investigation into Corbett's handling of the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse case at Penn State University. Attorney General Kathleen Kane, a Democrat elected in 2013, ordered the investigation.

A complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission settled on Tuesday makes a one-sentence statement that criminal law executives in the attorney general's office had a reputation for sending “racy” images and making derogatory comments.

The complaint details a “glass ceiling” culture for women in the office under Corbett and his appointed successor, Attorney General Linda Kelly — an assertion Corbett denied.

“I have more women working for me ... in a position of authority, as far as I know, than any governor in the history of Pennsylvania,” Corbett said.

Eight members of Corbett's 26 cabinet officials are women. Corbett appointed the state's first female chief of staff, Leslie Gromis Baker. State website records show that in September 2006, Gov. Ed Rendell had 10 women in a cabinet of 27.

“They're the best qualified,” Corbett said of his selections. “That's what I'm looking for.”

The women include the heads of the two largest state agencies: Welfare Secretary Beverley Mackereth and Acting Education Secretary Carolyn Dumaresq. Both were named in midterm appointments to replace men Corbett originally hired.

Outside of the cabinet, Corbett employs five women in deputy and director positions in his executive office.

Pennsylvania has a “systemic” problem of women being underrepresented in government and politics, said Jennie Sweet-Cushman, assistant director of the Center for Women and Politics at Chatham University.

The center began tracking women in appointed state government positions this year, she said, and found that three out of every 10 appointments to boards, commissions and committees are women.

Any governor has the option to make gender equity a priority, she said. “Women draw attention to issues that, when it's a bunch of men sitting in a room, don't always come to the table.”

Fatima Goss Graves, vice president for education and employment at the National Women's Law Center, said no sector, industry or pay grade is immune from discrimination or harassment cases, but pay gap issues are slightly smaller in the public sector due to collective bargaining and transparency laws that make salaries public.

During an editorial board meeting with the Tribune-Review, Corbett said he had no knowledge of what the emails contain and who was involved, or about the complaint. He said that he would not speculate and couldn't really look into the case because the files are held by Kane's office and cannot be released because of the court order.

Melissa Daniels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8511 or

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