HARRISBURG — York County prosecutors have asked the state Attorney General’s office to decide whether last week’s confrontation between Republican gubernatorial hopeful Scott Wagner and a campaign tracker for a liberal group warrants criminal charges.
Joe Grace, spokesman for Attorney General Josh Shapiro, said Tuesday that the matter was referred to his office this week and that it will work with local police in the Central Pennsylvania town where the dust-up occurred.
Mr. Grace would not say why York County District Attorney Tom Kearney referred the matter. But Mr. Kearney told the York Daily Record last week that he and Mr. Wagner, a state senator from York County, are longtime friends and that handling the matter would constitute a conflict of interest.
Mr. Kearney could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
The confrontation between Mr. Wagner, who is seeking to challenge Gov. Tom Wolf in next year’s election, and the campaign tracker occurred last week at the Country Club of York. Mr. Wagner, a member there, was there speaking to a group of lawyers and accountants when he noticed the campaign tracker in the audience filming him.
Telling the audience members they were “about to see your senator in action,” Mr. Wagner strode over to the tracker and confiscated his camera and its memory card. Later, he shoved the tracker’s hand-held cell phone camera.
The entire incident was captured on camera and posted online.
Mr. Wagner has said the tracker was trespassing on private property and that he was well within his rights to take his camera. The tracker has not been identified by name, but works for American Bridge, 21st Century, a liberal group based in Washington D.C. started by activist and staunch Clinton supporter David Brock.
An American Bridge spokeswoman has said that though the camera has been returned, the memory card has not.
Trackers have become a staple on the campaign trail over the last decade. They usually work for the opposing party and part of their job entails trying to catch politicians saying something controversial or embarrassing, but such confrontations are uncommon.
Angela Couloumbis: firstname.lastname@example.org, 717-787-5934 or on Twitter, @AngelasInk.