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Mastriano decides not to run for U.S. Senate

Plus, Penn State accreditor seeks info after hazing, student-athlete reports.


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Friday, May 26, 2023
📣 PROGRAMMING NOTE: We're off for the Memorial Day holiday on Monday but will be back in your inboxes first thing Tuesday.
PSU scrutiny, rare failure, unconventional process, police patrols, ruled justified, no veto, and first-class Amtrak food. Enjoy your weekend.

Penn State’s accrediting agency is seeking more information from the university about student life, treatment of student-athletes, and use of third-party services for students, with a decision on whether or not to take action slated for July.

An accrediting agency can warn a university its accreditation may be at risk or place a university on probation if the institution violates agency guidelines or federal regulations, for example. The agency can withdraw accreditation or deny future accreditation if problems are not resolved.

The school said the request for materials is "part of a routine follow-up," and that it is "complying." The university remains in good standing.

Read Spotlight PA's full report: Penn State’s accrediting agency requests documents on student life, treatment of student-athletes.

THE CONTEXT: The accrediting agency’s policy bars the public release of the commission’s request or Penn State’s answers.

But a spokesperson for the Middle States Commission on Higher Education told Spotlight PA that it sought documents “in response to two different media reports, one relating to an investigation involving student athletes and another relating to alleged hazing by a student organization.” 

Last summer, unsealed search warrants revealed that at least one Penn State student-athlete was reportedly extorted into sending sexually explicit photos and videos.

And in February, the university said an internal investigation in 2021 determined that misconduct occurred in the Lion Ambassadors, a student group responsible for giving campus tours to prospective students. However, the university said its review did not substantiate allegations of hazing that a former Lion Ambassador publicly leveled against the program last summer.


"At this time we have decided not to run for U.S. Senate."

State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) announcing he is not running for U.S. Senate in 2024 during a Facebook livestream on Thursday; Mastriano also pledged to support the eventual Republican nominee
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Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.CAPITOL BEAT: In case you missed it yesterday: Spotlight PA examined the rarity that was Monday's state House failure of a bill that would have made reporting of lost or stolen firearms mandatory. Capitol reporter Stephen Caruso also previews another special election, this one in purple Bucks County, that has some Democrats concerned about defending the party's narrow state House majority yet again.

Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.UNUSUAL VETTING: PennLive reports on this week's "unconventional multi-hearing" confirmation process for Al Schmidt, Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro's pick for Secretary of the Commonwealth. Wednesday's hearing focused on election administration and the Electronic Registration Information Center, a voter roll maintenance resource targeted by election deniers.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania.OFF DUTY: WPXI reports only two police officers showed up for work over the weekend in Pittsburgh's East End — the norm is 10 to 15 on duty. The reason wasn't clear, but the bureau's new chief, Larry Scirotto, was confirmed by the city council this week and said he plans to reassign officers from support roles to street patrols. "That's our most important function and we have to prioritize that," he said.

Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.FATAL FORCE: This month's fatal shooting of a 15-year-old by state troopers in Bradford County has been ruled justified by the local district attorney. Police said the teen was shot after pointing a handgun at troopers. As Spotlight PA previously reported, DAs determine whether or not to charge officers who kill or use force against civilians, and there is little recourse should anyone disagree with the decision.

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.NO VETO: Outgoing Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald told Councilor Tom Duerr he won't veto new county-level campaign contribution limits after all, per PublicSource. County council passed a bill this week that would cap individual contributions at $3,300 and PAC contributions at $5,000. The bill would take effect after November's election and follows a pricey primary for Fitzgerald's seat.
🏆 PA IQ TEST: Think you're pretty smart? Put your knowledge to the test with the latest edition of The Great PA News Quiz: Unclaimed billions, gun laws, official tweets, and the unofficial start of summer.

ARREST RECORDS: This week marked three years since the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Billy Penn breaks down what happened to the hundreds arrested and charged in the Philly protests that followed.

BRIDGE BUFF: @JamesAustinHill provides a glimpse of what it looks like when decades' worth of soot is cleaned off a Pittsburgh bridge as part of a $34.4 million rehab project. The before-and-after is impressive.

FIRST CLASS: James Beard Award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr will craft the new First Class dining menu on trains traveling on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, which includes Philly, per WPVI.

BEAR ATTACK: Officials say the bear that attacked two children in Luzerne County this week, non-fatally, may have been hit and killed by a car after the encounter and only a few miles away. DNA testing is pending.

MARTHA MY DEAR: Martha and Rocco were the "Most Pennsylvania baby names of 2022," according to an Axios analysis of U.S. Social Security Administration data. That means they're more common here.

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