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Scott Wagner: Documents meant to smear me
Editor's note: This article was originally published Sept. 17, 2013
An anonymously distributed package containing legal documents about 28th Senate District candidate Scott Wagner has caught the attention of its recipients — and the candidate.
Wagner, a political activist and owner of Penn Waste, addressed the information in a private meeting with reporters Tuesday morning, saying the selection of documents was intended to smear him.
The brown envelope of information included a copy of a protection from abuse petition filed in 2006 by Wagner's daughter, as well as Dauphin County records of Wagner's years-long divorce proceedings from Silvia Wagner (who is not the daughter's mother), and was sent to 16 people.
Recipients included state Sen. Mike Waugh, R-Shrewsbury, who's vacating the seat Wagner is seeking, a handful of state representatives, U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-Dillsburg, a local attorney, two local judges, the heads of the York County branches of the Republican and Democratic parties, and two reporters.
Other than listing the recipients, the cover sheet reads only, "Thought these items would be of interest to you."
The documents: Scott Wagner said he suspects the documents were sent because of his heavy financial support of Common Pleas Judge Michael Flannelly, who's opposing former Rep. Todd Platts for the seat on the bench, but Wagner declined to say who he thought had sent them.
After receiving inquiries, Wagner held a meeting Tuesday with reporters, his divorce attorney, his assistant, a campaign representative and his daughter.
Wagner's divorce attorney, John J. Connelly Jr. of Hershey, said the divorce documents were likely sent to present Wagner as a "deadbeat" who didn't pay his ex-wife what he owed.
The document lists Wagner as owing $800,000 in Domestics Relations payments, but Connelly said that amount was incorrect and eventually lowered.
Connelly said Wagner paid all of his obligations to Silvia Wagner as determined in a settlement, but he declined to elaborate on the terms because the settlement is subject to a confidentiality agreement.
'Heated argument': The PFA petition, which was later dropped, was filed after an incident in which Wagner visited his then 18-year-old daughter Katharine Wagner at her residence in York Township.
According to the petition, Katharine Wagner asked her father to leave several times, but he refused. An argument ensued, during which Scott Wagner "put both hands around (his daughter's) neck, squeezing (his daughter's) neck and shaking her."
The father also grabbed both of her wrists, pushing her against a counter, according to the petition.
Grandparents with whom Katharine Wagner was staying intervened, and Scott Wagner left, according to the petition.
The incident left the daughter bruised and sore, but no criminal charges were filed, according to the petition.
In the document, Katharine Wagner said she was afraid of her father and that he had been "verbally and emotionally abusive to her and her family" for at least a decade.
Wagner on Tuesday said the situation was "very sensitive" after his daughter was involved in a vehicle crash nine years ago.
"I went over to try to encourage her to seek some counseling," he said.
He said he disputes the facts contained in the petition, but he declined to say what was inaccurate.
"It was a very heated argument and yeah, there was touching involved, but some of the touching involved was inaccurate," he said.
When asked whether she agreed with her father's assessment, Katherine Wagner said, "All I'll say is at the time I was making some poor decisions, and I have a child of my own now and I can understand why it reached the level it did.
"I've been working for him for the past seven years, so we have a great relationship now."
Scott Wagner said he's focused on his campaign and doesn't think the voters of York should care about things that happened so long ago: a PFA that was dropped and a divorce in which he paid what he owed.
"This is a very chicken-shit thing that somebody did," Wagner said. "Very cowardly. ... This is all about trashing someone during politics and I'm not going to engage in this, honestly."
— Staff writer Christina Kauffman can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.