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Canary Files Right to Know Requests Regarding Snoopgate Investigation

Remember what we said about selective transparency and the Courthouse?

right to know request filed schuylkill county

On Thursday evening, Coal Region Canary filed several Right to Know requests with the Schuylkill County Courthouse seeking information on what we’re calling Snoopgate.

Our requests seek information related to the so-called “independent” investigation that led some officials to push for firing two Tax Claims office employees.

The County says these 2 employees – who are also 2 of the 4 Jane Doe plaintiffs who filed a federal civil lawsuit against Commissioner George Halcovage for sexual misconduct and several other officials for their complicity in that behavior – conducted hundreds of “unauthorized searches” using LexisNexis and possibly Westgate software.

County officials have their side of the story, which they attempted to present at the Wednesday, March 9 Commissioners meeting.

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But during that meeting, we learned from Commissioner Gary Hess, who voted against firing the employees, that the accused were never interviewed as part of that investigation. No County officials who appeared to be in on the investigation denied what Hess said, that the employees were denied some version of due process.

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Right to Know Requests Filed at Schuylkill County Courthouse

To try and piece together what really happened, we’ve crossed our fingers and filed 3 different Right to Know requests with the County Solicitor’s office. Confidence is low that we’ll actually get what’s being requested.

Here’s what we want:

A copy of the the investigation report OK’d by the “independent” law firm

Back in November, the Commissioners tried to do exactly what they tried to do on Wednesday, fire these 2 employees. But Hess balked at the idea and the board voted to hire what they’re calling an “independent” law firm to investigate the situation and also write policy that would outlaw what they accuse the employees of doing.

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That investigation is apparently complete so we’re requesting the exact Final Report the firm of Eckert, Seamons, Cherin, and Mellott LLC filed with the Courthouse. We also requested any communications attached to that report, such as text in an email from the firm and from the County.

A copy of the the investigation report OK’d by the “independent” law firm

We also want a copy of a possible investigation report sent by Schuylkill County officials to that “independent” law firm for approval.

This may or may not exist but if it does, it suggests the firm was hired to give a rubber stamp to what the County determined happened.

A copy of all communications between the law firm and the County

We also want to see all communications the County had with this so-called “independent” law firm.

This includes any and all emails and written letters sent by mail since the day the firm was hired by the County.

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The County has 5 business days to respond to our request. It can and likely will grant itself a 30-day extension to gather all relevant information. The Republican Herald newspaper is reporting that it’s filed a similar request to one of ours and also reporting that the County has requested a 30-day extension.

That’s a common tactic they use at the Courthouse. We urge the County to come forward with the investigation report this law firm submitted since they want everyone to believe their side of the story.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. It's Me

    March 12, 2022 at 12:46 pm

    I would love to see how much money was wasted.

  2. Coalregion12

    March 12, 2022 at 1:51 pm

    Good job Canary, shine the light!!

  3. PTFloridians

    March 12, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    Keep up the good work, Canary crew.

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