Pa. state auditor investigating process of determining business closures, waivers

Pa. state auditor investigating process of determining business closures, waivers

Even as our region begins to reopen, there's still frustration over which businesses were deemed essential and which ones were granted waivers.

On Thursday, the state auditor general gave an update on his investigation into the process used by Gov. Tom Wolf’s administration – two weeks after Eugene DePasquale began the audit.

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In that short time, DePasquale said his office has already received more than three dozen complaints from businesses throughout Pennsylvania.

"We've had more correspondence on this – and it's over a 100 – than any other audit I’ve ever done,” he said.

DePasquale said his office received complaints from multiple industries, more from real estate companies than any other, and mostly from small-to-medium sized businesses.

General contractors like Paul Baird are frustrated that their industry was deemed non-essential and upset that some companies were granted waivers, while theirs were denied.

"We were ordered to cease operations,” said Baird. "We were ordered to shut down and would be in the car driving to the grocery store, and there would be other construction companies out and working."

One couple, who had construction of their new home halted, also called the process unfair.

The audit is focused on three key objectives:

  • Evaluating the criteria used to determine which businesses where life-sustaining in the first place.
  • Investigating how the waiver program was developed.
  • Looking into whether the granting of waivers was done fairly.

It will also include checking if “any outside influence played a part in the final decision,” according to DePasquale.

The state received a significant number of letters on behalf of certain businesses from lobbyists and legislators.

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