HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — Pennsylvania's hotly contested U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Pat Toomey and his Democratic challenger Katie McGinty has an email dispute of its own that has been in court for a year, until now.
Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf's administration has begun releasing more copies of emails sent or received by McGinty when she was his chief of staff last year after bowing to a court order to release records that it had withheld as exempt under Pennsylvania's open records law.
Much of McGinty's emails showed the daily grind of news, briefings and updates on the administration's business, but also suggestions of McGinty's consideration of U.S. Senate run. There are few revelations about McGinty or personal messages written by her.
The state GOP requested the emails last year as part of its campaign research on McGinty. Last month, the Commonwealth Court ruled that Wolf's administration had not proven the emails should be exempt.
Wolf's press secretary, Jeff Sheridan, said more than 1,700 pages had been released to the GOP last week since the administration decided against prolonging the court fight. More records were forthcoming as administration staff worked through the list of search terms provided by the Republican Party, Sheridan said.
The race is being closely watched because it could tip Senate control to Democrats.
Copies of the newly released emails given to The Associated Press on Thursday by the administration were responsive to 32 search terms that included Democratic Party figures such as Hillary Clinton.
The contents of McGinty's emails were dominated by administrative staff forwarding links or texts of news stories, press releases, legislative agendas, McGinty's daily calendars or emergency management updates.
There were entreaties for McGinty to support a project, meet with someone or consider a job-seeker for an administration post. There was some discussion among Wolf's senior staff of strategy to win a public relations war with Republican lawmakers over the governor's first budget proposal.
As top Democrats in Washington recruited her, there also were hints that McGinty was considering running for U.S. Senate before she left the chief of staff's job in July 2015.
In April 2015, McGinty's daily schedule included a Philadelphia meeting with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Her calendars or emails also showed scheduled meetings in Philadelphia with various political figures or supporters, including an April 30 meeting in a Philadelphia state office space with Democratic Party Chairman Marcel Groen.
In June 2015, she asked for details on Toomey's performance from a newly released public poll after a Wolf communications staffer circulated elements of it that involved Wolf's performance.
A prominent Democratic fundraiser in Philadelphia forwarded McGinty a link to a June 29, 2015 New York Times story titled, "Hillary Clinton Faces a More Liberal Democratic Fund-Raising Landscape." In July 2015, an email appeared to contain the contact information of U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, a key cog in Senate Democrats' national campaign strategy.
The Republican Party contended this week that the emails show McGinty "breaking state ethics rules." A campaign spokesman said McGinty does not believe she committed any ethics violations.
The Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission tends to overlook minimal use of a state resource that does not demonstrate a repeated pattern that creates a significant personal financial benefit, said Executive Director Robert Caruso, who was speaking generally and not about McGinty.
Meanwhile, a daytime meeting of a political nature could be seen as "flexing" working time by someone who works unusual hours, Caruso said.
Wolf administration officials say the chief of staff's job involves long hours.