AG: No charges in Wagner country club incident
No charges will be filed in connection to the confrontation between Sen. Scott Wagner and a cameraman working for a liberal super PAC, according to a news release from the state Attorney General's Office.
Michelle Henry, first deputy of the AG's office, issued a statement Tuesday stating that Wagner and "tracker" Chris Van Leeuwen both acted inappropriately, but the "facts, circumstances and conduct do not rise to the level where the Attorney General’s office will pursue criminal charges.”
Henry added that Wagner, as a public official, "should have maintained proper civil discourse and controlled his anger."
The AG's investigation, done in consultation with Spring Garden Township Police, stems from a May 2 confrontation between Wagner, R-Spring Garden Township, and Van Leeuwen at a luncheon inside Country Club of York.
While speaking to attendees of the luncheon, Wagner noticed Van Leeuwen in the back of the room filming him and asked what organization he worked for.
When Van Leeuwen explained that he worked for American Bridge 21st Century, which describes itself as "a progressive research and communications organization committed to holding Republicans accountable," Wagner took exception to his presence and proceeded to take the tracker's camera.
Trackers often are hired to shadow political candidates in high-profile campaigns in an attempt to catch them saying or doing something controversial.
"You're about to see your senator in action," Wagner, who's running for governor in 2018, said to the crowd before taking the camera. "I'm a member here and you're not a member, and you're trespassing."
Lizzy Price, a spokeswoman for American Bridge, has said the camera was returned but not the device's memory card. She wrote in an email Tuesday that the memory card still has not been returned to Van Leeuwen or the organization.
"If one day on the campaign trail made him angry enough to physically lash out at a Pennsylvania voter, Scott Wagner simply cannot be trusted to handle important and sensitive matters of managing the state,” Price added.
The incident was referred to the AG's office because of a conflict of interest claimed by York County District Attorney Tom Kearney.
Jason High, a spokesman for Wagner's campaign, said he is pleased with the AG's decision, and he believes the office was fair and came to the correct conclusion.
"Scott is looking forward to putting this past him and getting back to talking to voters about what matters to them," High said, adding that he was not aware of what happened to the memory card..
Wagner did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment, though he has issued statements in the past, defending his actions:
"Yesterday a tracker ... lied and trespassed on private property for a speech that I was giving in my role as a senator," he stated the day after the incident. "Instead of leaving when he was asked, the tracker continued to harass me and the people at the event, and finally I assisted in removing his camera. There are times when there is no choice but to stand up and confront the cheater in the room."