Scott Perry says he's 'not a target' amid reports of more Pa. GOP subpoenas

Chris Brennan and Jeremy Roebuck
The Philadelphia Inquirer (TNS)

Federal subpoenas and search warrants delivered to Republican lawmakers in Pennsylvania this week were the subject of some confusion and a bit of clarity.

First the clarity: U.S. Rep. Scott Perry on Thursday said his attorneys were told by the U.S. Department of Justice that he is "not a target of its investigation" after three FBI agents confronted him with a search warrant Tuesday and seized his cellphone.

Perry, R-Carroll Township, first expressed outrage at that approach, which came while he was traveling with his family, instead of contacting his attorneys.

On Thursday, Perry released a statement saying he has instructed his attorneys to cooperate with the Department of Justice "to ensure it gets the information to which it's entitled, but to protect information to which it's not — including communications that are protected under the Speech and Debate Clause of the United States Constitution."

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That clause protects members of Congress from being sued for debates they engage in.

As for the confusion: The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported Wednesday that FBI subpoenas were delivered to the Capitol offices of several state Republican lawmakers this week. That story did not name any legislator receiving a subpoena.

The Patriot-News said the information sought centered on Perry and an effort to assemble an alternate set of electors from Pennsylvania as part of former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., speaks during a news conference with members of the House Freedom Caucus outside the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 28, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/TNS)

That was one element of interest the congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol wanted to discuss Tuesday with State Sen. Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor in Pennsylvania from Franklin County.

Mastriano, in the weeks after the 2020 election, pushed for legislation to create an alternate set of electors.

He refused to answer questions from the Jan. 6 committee, leaving his interview after less than 15 minutes and vowing to challenge in court a refusal to allow his attorney to record the session.

Charlie Gerow, a political consultant who ran for governor in the Republican primary, was one of 20 people who signed on as an alternate elector on Dec. 14, 2020. Gerow, who hosted the meeting for the effort in his Harrisburg office, said Thursday he has received no subpoena or federal outreach about that.

Staffers for Republican leaders in the state House and Senate had little to say about subpoenas.

Mike Straub, a spokesperson for House Speaker Bryan Cutler, a Lancaster County Republican, said his boss had not received a subpoena and he had no information about any other member receiving one. Straub noted that, as is typical for mid-August, no legislators and only a few staffers are in the Capitol this week.

Jason Gottesman, spokesperson for House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, a Centre County Republican, said, "We do not comment concerning potential or existing ongoing investigations."

A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward, a Westmoreland County Republican, referred questions to Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Republican from Centre County.

Corman spokesperson Jason Thompson said Thursday, "We have nothing new to share today."

Thompson told the Patriot-News that "federal subpoenas typically request confidentiality from the witnesses being subpoenaed in order to avoid impediment to the ongoing investigation, so it would be inappropriate to comment on whether members have received subpoenas or not."

Thompson added that "we have no indication" that any Republicans in the state Senate "are targets of any FBI investigation."