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Football police in overtime, FBI subpoenas in Harrisburg, and (possible) U.S. Senate debates

Plus, FBI office breach suspect was Pa. native.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
August 15, 2022
Sports money, subpoena questions, ballot case, open debates, political violence, under arrest, and a building boom. It's Monday. Welcome.
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—Colin D., PA Postmaster

Penn State University spent more than half-a-million dollars on police who worked overtime at university football games last year.

Spotlight PA's State College Bureau reports the $572,119 total went to five Centre County departments combined. While Penn State declined to provide the figures, Spotlight PA obtained them directly from the departments. 

The true total of police overtime paid by the university for football games is likely even higher as Pennsylvania State Police also provide gameday security. Unlike the other departments, they declined to share their 2021 total.

Spotlight PA has filed a Right-to-Know request with State Police for this information. Read Spotlight PA's full report on its digging here.

THE CONTEXT: PSU would not provide details on overtime reimbursements to Spotlight PA because the information "is not considered public." 

State-related universities are "generally exempt" from Pennsylvania's Right-to-Know Law requirements, according to the Pennsylvania Freedom of Information Coalition, a government transparency advocacy group.

There have been efforts to change that. State Rep. Ryan Warner (R., Fayette) introduced legislation earlier this year that would subject the schools to higher open records standards, per TribLIVE. 

His bill, HB 2259, has sat in committee since January. 

Read more: Spotlight PA tested government transparency in Centre County. Tell us what to look for in the salary data.


"...I think it's all about really intimidating us — well, first trying to keep Donald Trump from running again in 2024, he's running. I look forward to that. But they need the rest of us to shut up and be compliant and not to ask questions." 

—GOP gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano criticizing last week's FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago over Trump's handling of classified materials
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Happy Monday. Don't forget to stretch, like this turtle at Gifford Pinchot State Park, via Ed G. Have a cool image to share? Send us your photos or art, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
SUBPOENA POWER: Pennsylvania taxpayers may end up footing the legal bills for GOP General Assembly members and their staff who were subpoenaed by the FBI last week, reportedly as part of an investigation into U.S. Rep. Scott Perry's role in a 2020 fake electors scheme, the Post-Gazette (paywalled) reports. The paper says lots of questions about the subpoenas remain, namely who received them

BALLOT DISPUTE: Commonwealth Court Judge Renée Cohn Jubelirer promises to move quickly on a legal dispute that has stalled certifications of statewide results from May's primary in high-profile races for governor and U.S. Senate, the AP reports. Three counties — Berks, Fayette, and Lancaster — were sued by the state for failing to count undated mail ballots. A fourth county, Butler, did the same but isn't being sued. A defense attorney says that disparity contradicts the state's position.

DEBATE DATES: Republican Mehmet Oz has agreed to five U.S. Senate debates against Democrat John Fetterman, but City & State reports Fetterman's campaign has yet to make any such commitment. On Friday, Fetterman returned to the trail for the first time since his stroke in May. And The Inquirer (paywalled) examined why his carpetbagger attacks on Oz are landing so well in parochial Pennsylvania

FBI BREACH: The gunman who tried to breach an FBI office in Cincinnati last week — after calling for an "all-out war" over the FBI's raid on Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate — is a native of Perry County, Pennsylvania named Ricky W. Shiffer, the Washington Post reports, via Capital-Star. Shiffer, 42, was shot and killed by police after the FBI office attack. "If you don't hear from me, it is true I tried attacking the FBI," he posted to Truth Social minutes after the attempt.

IN CUSTODY: State Police have made an arrest in the mowing down of over a dozen people — one fatally — at a Berwick fundraiser for the victims of a NEPA fire that killed 10 on Aug. 5. Times Leader reports Adrian Oswaldo Sura Reyes, 24, is also charged with a separate homicide that occurred on Saturday in nearby Nescopek. He's being held without bail. Details on motive were not immediately available.

RATTLED CROWD: Crowds were sent scrambling at Bethlehem's large Musikfest event on Saturday after a reported shooting, per WFMZ. Details were scarce as police investigate. The festival reopened on Sunday.

NATIVE CONSULTS: State officials are now telling Bushy Run Battlefield Park staff that indigenous groups must be consulted before future French and Indian War reenactments there, via TribLIVE.

RUSHDIE ATTACK: The founder of Pittsburgh's City of Asylum, Henry Reese, was injured in Friday's attack on author Salman Rushdie in upstate New York. Reese was the moderator for the event, via AP. 

BOOM TIMES: Student housing development in State College is booming, even amid decades of flat PSU enrollment, and The Centre Daily Times (paywalled) reports local officials are increasingly concerned.

LITHUANIAN DAYS: Lithuanian Ambassador Audra Plepyte was on hand for the Lithuanian Days festival in Barnesville last weekend. Standard-Speaker (paywalled) says it's one of the oldest ethnic festivals in the U.S.

Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag. Answers submitted by 6 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

*Note: Instead of listing this week's theme here, we're going to ask you all to guess it at the end of the week for an extra chance to win Spotlight PA swag.
Friday's answer: Periodicals

Congrats to our weekly winner: Stanley J.

Congrats to our daily winners: Michelle T., Starr B., Craig W., Charlotte B., Elaine C., Briann M., Becky C., Don H., Susan N.-Z., Susan D., George S., Dianne K., Nancy S., Marty M., James B., Doris T., John B., David W., Jude M., Kimberly D., Jim M., Ted B., Irene R., and Lynne E.
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