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Allegation against Shapiro aide was settled quietly

Plus, why Pa.'s 2024 primary date is unlikely to change.

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Monday, October 16, 2023
In today's edition: time crunch, open primaries, hub launch, voter yields, dark money, and a Pa. senator angers Olivia Rodrigo fans. Welcome to the week.

Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office entered into a settlement agreement to resolve allegations of sexual harassment against former aide Mike Vereb, Spotlight PA reports.

The settlement includes a clause that prevents both parties from discussing the allegations. Spotlight PA was not able to determine the amount of the settlement but sent a request for those details under Pennsylvania’s public records law.

Read Spotlight PA’s full report: Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office quietly settled sexual harassment allegation against top aide

THE CONTEXT:  Spotlight PA reported on the accusations and Vereb’s sudden resignation last month. A document obtained by Spotlight PA and dated May 26 detailed claims about the alleged harassment. In the complaint against Vereb, a former female subordinate alleged that earlier in the year he made inappropriate, lewd, and sexually suggestive comments. 

Shapiro made his first public comment on the situation earlier this month, confirming Vereb’s resignation and saying that he could not “comment on any specifics, and that’s really designed to be able to protect all parties involved in any matter.”

Last week, Republican lawmakers called for an investigation of the Shapiro administration’s handling of the allegations.


"Governor Shapiro deliberately chose to ignore the humanity of Palestinians who are once again being ignored by the international community."

—CAIR-Philadelphia Executive Director Ahmet Tekelioglu in a letter criticizing Shapiro for statements on the Israel-Hamas War; in other news: state Treasurer Stacy Garrity has bought an additional $20 million in Israeli government bonds amid the conflict, a more than 50% increase
At Spotlight PA, we put voters front and center in our nonpartisan election coverage. Get all the information you need to make an informed vote this November by visiting our Election Center website

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» Complete guide to the candidates for Commonwealth, Superior Courts

» Una guía de los candidatos a la Commonwealth y las Cortes Superiores

» What to know about the judicial retention questions on Pa. ballots

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A box of pawpaws, via Erin N. Here are expert tips on what to do with the fruit (and what not to do). Have a Pennsylvania photo to share? Send it to us by email, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.

A closeup of green fruits at a fruit stand.
Today's top news story in Pennsylvania.PRIMARY PROBLEM: Pennsylvania lawmakers haven't finalized a new date for next year's presidential primary, and likely won’t. In separate statements Thursday, state Senate leadership said the matter was “closed” and state House leadership called it “unresolvable,” per Spotlight PA and Votebeat. Counties warned officials it was too late to change the date without administrative issues, the AP reported.
  • RELATED: Debate over Pennsylvania's 2024 presidential primary date hinges on Passover scheduling conflict, via Forward
  • First candidate declares run for retiring state Rep. Schemel's seat, citing 2024 primary date uncertainty, via the Echo Pilot
Today's second top news story in Pennsylvania.OPEN PRIMARY: A state House committee is set to consider two bills tomorrow that would open up Pennsylvania's primaries to unaffiliated and third-party voters, Spotlight PA's Stephen Caruso reports. Open primaries advocate David Thornburgh said such legislation has never received a House committee vote before, but as Spotlight PA previously reported, at least one big obstacle remains in the state Senate.

Today's third top news story in Pennsylvania. HUB PROJECTS: The Biden administration has approved funding for two multistate hydrogen hubs to be partially built in Pennsylvania, PublicSource reports. The Appalachian Regional Clean Hydrogen Hub will be in the southwestern corner of the state, and the Mid-Atlantic Clean Hydrogen Hub will be in the southeastern corner, with both set to receive hundreds of millions of federal dollars.
Today's fourth top news story in Pennsylvania.VOTER STATS: State Sen. Dan Laughlin (R., Erie) says Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro's contested automatic voter enrollment policy at DMVs statewide has yielded 14,903 new registered voters in a matter of weeks — 3,194 Democrats, 4,052 independents, and 7,657 Republicans. Votebeat and Spotlight PA reported on Republican pushback against the policy change and the legal threats amassing around it

Today's fifth top news story in Pennsylvania.ATTACK ADS: Dark money has entered the race for Lancaster County commissioner, a likely first, LNP (paywall) reports. The George Soros-linked Open Democracy PAC is behind a mailer that attacks the records of incumbent GOP commissioners Josh Parsons and Ray D’Agostino on voter access, among other things. Both have crusaded against mail voting. D’Agostino attended a 2020 election denier's event.
🏆 SEVEN FOR THE WEEK: Did you stay on top of Pennsylvania news last week? Prove it by answering seven questions in the latest edition of the Great PA News Quiz: Shapiro's climate quandary, election FAQs, and Stoneman Willie's name.
OLIVIA'S ARMY: State Sen. John DiSanto (R., Dauphin) posted his disapproval of Olivia Rodrigo's new Apple commercial and quickly drew the wrath of her extremely online army of fans, via @gill_mcgoldrick.

PHONE BILLS: Read this if you're on T-Mobile: Ars Technica reports the company is automatically moving customers to more expensive plans — roughly $10 more per line — next month unless the customers opt out. 

THE SHUNNING: Saying the primary "was not indicative of the people's choice," Republican Mary Jo Moss has launched a write-in bid for Schuylkill County commissioner, and says her party is shunning her in response.

OPEN CALL: Erie residents are being asked to weigh in on the local port authority's plan to condemn, acquire, and clean up the former Erie Coke plant. A public hearing is set for Oct. 23. Written comments are also an option.

NO SAVESIES: Police in one Philadelphia district recently confiscated 1,000 traffic cones that are used to save parking spots (illegally) and challenged another precinct to try and beat their haul, FOX29 reports.

BONUS BLURB: The Phillies have made it to the National League Championship Series. Game one of the best-of-seven series against the Arizona Diamondbacks starts at 8:07 p.m. tonight at Citizens Bank Park.
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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 5:30 p.m. on issue date will be counted.

Friday's answer: Affliction

Congrats to our weekly winner: Tyler K

Congrats to our daily winners:  Becky C., Don H., Lynne E., Jon W., Jody A., Jane R., Richard A., Vicki U., Susan N., Susan D., Robert C., Barbara F., Elanie C., Stacy S., Mike B., Marie B., Karyl S., William Z., Nancy S., Craig E., Wendy A., David W., Theresa T., Stanley J., Doug W., Kimberly D., Judith D., David T, and Tom M.
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