Enforce state Sen. Doug Mastriano subpoena

York Dispatch editorial board

If state Sen. Doug Mastriano wants to adhere to his policy of speaking only to friendly, conservative media outlets, he’s going to have to defy a congressional subpoena to do it.

The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol has sent a letter to the Franklin County Republican, whose 33rd District includes a portion of York County, notifying him they’d like to discuss his actions surrounding the event.

It doesn’t take a political tea leaf-reader to advise the bipartisan committee that it should now be considering how to compel Mastriano’s testimony. Because his past actions provide little reason to think Mastriano will be any more eager to meet with the committee than fellow Pennsylvania election-conspiracist Rep. Scott Perry, who dismissed a request (albeit not a subpoena) to testify based on the fanciful misapprehension that the committee is somehow “not duly constituted.”

More:'Subpoena was long overdue': Mastriano faces uncertain future in Jan. 6 probe

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More:Rep. Scott Perry denies Jan. 6 panel's request for interview

More:Scott Perry part of top meeting with Trump officials as they plotted to reverse 2020 election: report

Chalk it up as yet another example of the seemingly endless ways in which former President Donald Trump degraded politics in general and the Republican Party in particular. His administration normalized disregard for government oversight; now, the vast majority of Republicans believe rules, laws and norms do not apply to them. (See: Smucker, Lloyd, R-Pa., metal detectors.)

Mastriano’s actions between Election Day, 2020, and Jan. 6, 2021, certainly deserve scrutiny:

— He was a vocal proponent of Trump’s “big lie” that the election was stolen, hosting a Nov. 30 meeting in Gettysburg at which Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, in person, and Trump, by video, made false allegations of election fraud.

— By his own admission, he spoke with Trump more than a dozen times during this period.

— He sought to throw out Pennsylvania’s presidential vote so that the Republican-led state Legislature could install its own, Trump-backing electors. (Laughably, he claimed this wholesale disenfranchisement would ensure “that the people are not disenfranchised through a corrupt election process.”)

— He organized buses to, and was present on the grounds of, the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 (though there’s no evidence he entered the Capitol building).

A Facebook post showing state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Adams, and former GOP state lawmaker Rick Saccone at Wednesday's pro-Trump rally in Washington.

— The House committee, in its letter, said, “we understand that you have knowledge of and participated in a plan to arrange for an alternate slate of electors to be presented to the President of the Senate on January 6, 2021.” Unlike the plan to replace Pennsylvania’s electors, this effort, conducted in Pennsylvania and half a dozen other states that Trump lost, saw phony alternate “electors” submit false Electoral College certificates to Congress — “an action,” reported the New York Times, “Mr. Trump’s allies used to try to justify delaying or blocking the final step in confirming the 2020 election results … on Jan. 6, 2021.”

The games didn’t end there. Mastriano continues to bleat non-stop about non-existent election fraud, was instrumental in launching a so-called “forensic” audit of the state’s already certified ballots, and sought possession of ballots and voting machines from York and two other counties.

So, yes, there’s plenty the Jan. 6 committee needs to hear from the lawmaker, a newly minted candidate for governor. And, as with Perry, it must find a way to ensure cooperation.

Democrats did themselves and the country no favors in allowing Trump and his allies to casually ignore past subpoenas. (See: Conway, Kellyanne, Hatch Act violations.) The Jan. 6 committee must now make up for those failings by reasserting Congress’s duty to conduct thorough and unfettered bipartisan inquiries.

It’s not just the Jan. 6 investigation but the tenet of legitimate government oversight that will be strengthened by enforcing testimony by Mastriano, Perry and all other subpoenaed parties.