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Wagner tracker incident referred to AG's office

David Weissman
505-5431/@DispatchDavid

A police investigation into state Sen. Scott Wagner's confrontation with a liberal super PAC videographer has been referred to the state Attorney General's Office.

State Sen. Scott Wagner. Dawn J. Sagert photo

The Spring Garden Township Republican was caught on camera last week — in widely distributed videos — confronting a tracker and forcibly taking his equipment.

The tracker works for American Bridge 21st Century, which describes itself as "a progressive research and communications organization committed to holding Republicans accountable."

Super PAC to Wagner: Give us our stuff or else

Trackers often are hired to shadow political candidates in high-profile campaigns in an attempt to catch them saying or doing something controversial.

Police investigating Sen. Wagner's confrontation with cameraman

Wagner, who's challenging Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf in next year's gubernatorial contest, took exception to the man's presence while he was speaking to a group at the Country Club of York, a private club where Wagner is a member.

"You're about to see your senator in action," Wagner said to the crowd before taking the camera, because "I'm a member here and you're not a member, and you're trespassing."

Lizzy Price, a spokeswoman for American Bridge, said the camera was returned but not the device's memory card.

Spring Garden Township Police Chief George Swartz confirmed last week that police were called to the scene, and the incident is under investigation, but no conclusions had been drawn yet.

Kyle King, a spokesman for the York County District Attorney's Office, said Wednesday his office has yet to receive a completed investigation from police, but the office sent a referral letter on the matter to the state Office of Attorney General.

King said last week his office would need to refer out any investigation into the matter because of a conflict of interest, though he declined to provide details on the conflict.

Joe Grace, a spokesman in Attorney General Josh Shapiro's office, confirmed that his office has received the letter and is working with Spring Garden police.

Swartz did not return a voicemail message Wednesday seeking an update on the investigation.

Wagner has not returned voicemail messages since last week seeking comment on the incident, but he issued a statement standing by 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. "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."

— Reach David Weissman at dweissman@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.