Corbett’s DEP chief resigns amid Pornogate allegations

By Andrew Staub | PA Independent

HARRISBURG, Pa. – Chris Abruzzo, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, resigned Thursday, a week after the attorney general named him one of eight prominent officials who sent or received pornographic emails over four years.

Abruzzo, in a resignation letter to Gov. Tom Corbett, did not confirm or deny he sent or received the explicit emails, but said he thought the assertions from Attorney General Kathleen Kane had become a “distraction.”

“While I have no recollection of the specific accounts described by the media, I accept full responsibility for any lack of judgment I may have exhibited in 2009,” Abruzzo wrote. “I do not condone that behavior and it is not a reflection of the person or professional that I am.”

ABRUZZO OUT: Gov. Tom Corbett’s DEP chief, Chris Abruzzo, resigned Thursday.

Abruzzo also wrote that has “not been afforded any opportunity by the Attorney General to review any files supporting the public assertions made against me.”

His resignation is effective immediately. Dana Aunkst, executive deputy secretary for programs, will take over as acting DEP secretary, Corbett said in a news release announcing Abruzzo’s resignation.

“I thank Chris for his dedicated service to the people of Pennsylvania,” Corbett said in the release. “Our environment and natural resources are better protected today due to his leadership, as well as the hard work of the men and women of DEP.”

The explicit email situation – dubbed Pornogate – has ensnared state police Commission Frank Noonan and, according to The Morning Call, Pennsylvania State Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery.

Reformers such as Gene Stilp, a candidate for state House, earlier this week set up an anonymous post office box to accept complaints about potential misuse of state computers and email systems. On Thursday, Stilp also filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board, asking it to investigate McCaffery.

While Kane’s office named eight officials last week, a spokeswoman for the attorney general said about 30 current employees were also involved, but they haven’t been named because of union and human resources policies.

Andrew Staub is a reporter for PA Independent and can be reached at Andrew@PAIndependent.com. Follow @PAIndependent on Twitter for more.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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