Katie McGinty Asked Podesta for Advice on Senate Run, May Have Violated State Law

Katie McGinty / AP
October 19, 2016

Pennsylvania Democrat Katie McGinty emailed Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta to ask whether he thought she should run for U.S. Senate, according to hacked email released by Wikileaks.

The email, which was first reported by Roll Call, was sent by McGinty during her stint as Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's chief of staff, prompting her opponent's campaign to call into question whether McGinty broke state ethics rules regarding political activity.

"Hey John—Emilys List and DSCC have been working me hard re a U.S. Senate run," McGinty wrote in a July 17, 2015, email. "Would love your perspective. Will need to decide one way or other by mid next week."

Podesta's response was delivered by phone, according to the email, so it is unclear what advice he offered, but McGinty announced her resignation from the governor's office the next week after serving for just six months.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey's campaign argued in a Wednesday press release that McGinty's email, which was sent during work hours, was "forbidden by state rules."

The campaign linked to an official Wolf administration document outlining "guidelines for political activity" that specifically forbids employees from political activity during work hours. The state defines political activity in the guidelines document as anything that "involves running for office."

The document also recommends that "senior level executive branch employees" such as McGinty obtain guidance by the state's general counsel before political activity.

The McGinty campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Republican claims that her email violated state ethics rules.

The email to Podesta is being used by Republicans as further proof that voters deserve to see the emails that McGinty sent as Wolf's chief of staff.

A state court ordered the Wolf administration to release 15,000 pages worth of emails McGinty sent, but gave the administration enough time to produce the emails that it could wait until after the election to comply with the order.

"If Katie McGinty followed the recent court order to release her state government emails, we might well find out a whole lot more about her political work on the government payroll–it’s no wonder she has gone to such great lengths to keep her taxpayer paid emails secret," said Toomey spokesman Ted Kwong. "Now, more than ever, Katie McGinty must release her official state emails before Election Day so the voters can know the truth."

Kwong added that the Podesta email is further proof that "McGinty is the hand-picked candidate of her Washington party bosses."

McGinty was boosted during a contentious Democratic primary battle with former congressman Joe Sestak, who complained following his loss that it was the Democratic establishment in Washington, D.C., that pushed McGinty across the finish line.