By Charlie Deitch
Pittsburgh Current Editor
A member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives confirmed to the Pittsburgh Current late Thursday night that they will be asking Attorney General Josh Shapiro to investigate a secret office leased? by Republican state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe and paid for with taxpayer funds.
On Tuesday, Oct. 20, the Current reported that since at least 2017, Metcalfe has been paying $475 per month to rent office space that is not open to the public, is not marked by any public signage or listed on his official website. Metcalfe has not returned multiple requests for comment but he wrote on a critic’s Facebook page: “I have had office space there for years that is used for legislative work. They have office space in the lower level of the building, which is leased. The office space was needed and is used for legislative work due to limited space being available in the township building where my main district office is located. The office at the Johnston House is not open for walk-in constituent service which saves the cost of staffing and signage.”
But the revelation of this office used by a controversial legislator who refers to himself as “a leader on the issues of taxpayer protection”,, has sent ripples through Harrisburg. Early Thursday, the Current received information that legislators are discussing the need for an investigation into Metcalfe’s more than $20,000 expenditure over the past three years.
Late Thursday, one state representative who asked to remain anonymous said they requested the Attorney General to investigate the procurement and payment for the office located at the Johnston House, an event venue in Mars, Pa., just five miles from Metcalfe’s official district office. On Wednesday, October 21, Metcalfe told KDKA-TV that when the lease is up on the office in November, he would not renew.
The Current reached out to the Attorney General’s office to directly ask if the office was investigating Metcalfe’s expenditure. A spokesperson said, “We can neither confirm nor deny at this time.”
Typically in cases of questionable government spending, the office of Auditor General does regular audits of entities receiving taxpayer money. However, that is not the case when it comes to the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Auditor-General has no power to audit the books of the legislature. However, several times over his two terms, especially when deep cuts were needed to balance the state’s ailing budget, Auditor General Eugene DePasquale has asked the legislature to allow his office to audit the books of the General Assembly. They have consistently denied his request.
“Auditor General DePasquale supports changing state law to allow his department to audit the General Assembly because taxpayers deserve to know how their hard-earned money is being spent,” said DePasquale spokesperson Gary Miller, when asked about the Metcalfe expenditure.
Metcalfe’s Democratic opponent in the Nov. 3 General Election, Daniel Smith said he is glad that some legislators are taking notice of Metcalfe’s office expenditure.
“As a taxpayer and a candidate working hard to represent the District I take great pride in, I’m relieved that the State House is taking notice of this recent spending deception made by Daryl Metcalfe with our tax dollars,” Smith said. “I’m confident that, if this investigation proceeds, the facts will prove just how long this 22-year career politician has lied about ‘protecting taxpayers’ of PA House District 12 through his shady bookkeeping practices.”
With just 11 days remaining until election day, Smith is looking to seize not only on Metcalfe’s office expenditure but tens of thousands of dollars in other expenses that Metcalfe has incurred. A suite of new commercials is scheduled to begin circulating this afternoon. Here’s a sneak peek: