A Republican state senator from Pennsylvania claimed Wednesday he was denied access to inspect what he claimed was a huge stockpile of personal protective equipment (PPE) being stored at the state’s Farm Show site in Harrisburg.
Mastriano said he heard that Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration had amassed 15,000 to 20,000 pallets of PPE in a building on the Farm Show site, and the senator said he wanted to inspect the items but when he arrived Wednesday he was told “members of the public” weren’t allowed in.
“I’m just not a member of the public, I’m a senator on the Argiculture Committee,” Mastriano said in his video, “and we have constitutional oversight so I’m here to see how taxpayer dollars are being used and if there’s any problems. If there’s nothing … they make things look terrible when they refuse entrance and access, to a senator, to a building that’s owned by the public. Just think about the optics. It’s not very well thought-out.”
He predicted he would likely be granted a tour soon, “under stringent conditions,” after filing a formal request with administration officials.
“Whatever,” he said, appearing slightly amused by the rejection. “If there’s nothing to hide, say ‘C’mon in.’ There’s no ‘Stump the Chump,’ this is no ‘Gotcha’ game. It’s absolutely none of that. I heard, I saw pictures, that there’s something strange happening here and I just need to see it with my oversight and was denied reasonable access to the facility.”
Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano
In a later video, Mastriano said he didn’t pick fights with anyone at the site because he realized staffers were likely following instructions from their bosses and didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.
“I stood there with an amiable, positive but determined attitude,” he said. “I’m not going to disrespect the people that are caught in the middle. … They just need the OK and blessing from their superiors, the supervisors, I get it.”
Mastriano is considered a top contender for the GOP nomination in Pennsylvania’s next gubernatorial race in 2022. A Susquehanna Polling and Research poll showed him with support from 11% of the state’s GOP voters, trailing only former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta at 20%. Sixty percent of poll respondents remained undecided, PoliticsPA.com reported.
Earlier Wednesday, the website TalkWilliamsport.com had posted what it claimed was a report based on a “whistleblower” account from a state employee.
The state employee, who requested anonymity, supplied photos showing a tremendous number of cardboard boxed inside the Farm Show building.
One close-up photo showed that a box contained 240 pieces of “Face Shield” that were “Made in China.” Another box appeared to contain “disinfex multi-purpose wipes,” also made in China.
The whistleblower later called in to speak with conservative Pennsylvania radio host Wendy Bell.
“Why is the state warehousing medical supplies?” the whistleblower asked at one point. He noted that the stockpiled items – besides not being distributed to medical sites — were also preventing the Farm Show site from hosting events, as it normally did before the pandemic struck.
The annual Farm Show, normally held each January, was held virtually this year because of the pandemic.
“Somebody needs to look into it,” he added, estimating it could be after Labor Day before the Farm Show site could host events again.
In one of his videos, Mastriano noted that shortages of PPE were a big issue across the U.S. when the pandemic started a year ago. The TalkWilliamsport.com story claimed that such concerns had been raised again in Pennsylvania in recent weeks.
The website Delaware Valley Journal initially reported about the alleged Harrisburg stockpile on Jan. 20.
That site noted at the time that as far back as last October, the state chapter of the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) was noting that Pennsylvania’s nursing homes were experiencing shortages in PPE.
More than half of Pennsylvania’s 12,600 coronavirus deaths have been linked to the state’s long-term-care facilities, The Daily Times of Delaware County reported.
Fox News’ Charles Creitz contributed to this story.