Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Senator Argall Introduces Legislation to Remove Halcovage as Schuylkill County Commissioner

On Tuesday, Senator David G. Argall (R-Schuylkill/Berks) introduced legislation to remove Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage from office.  

Argall is not the first state official to bring up legislation in regards to the Halcovage allegations but he is one of the first to call for his removal within the legislation.

In late June of 2020, the Schuylkill County Solicitor's office announced that the County Human Resources Department had received allegations against Commissioner Halcovage including claims of sexual harassment concerning several female County Employees.

After an investigation that took place before the announcement, it was reported that Halcovage had violated the Sexual Harassment Policy #2005-18 (Revised September 2013), the Conduct and Disciplinary Action Policy #2005-19; and the Physical and Verbal Abuse Policy #2007-02 (Revised March 2007).

A week later, on July 7th, 2020, Schuylkill County District Attorney Mike O'Pake handed over the investigation into the allegations to the Pennsylvania Attorney General's office.

O'Pake's office had been requested by the Human Resources Department to determine if criminal charges were appropriate. O'Pake felt that the investigation would better be handled by the State Attorney General's office.

In early February, we learned from Attorney General Shapiro's office that the investigation ended the week prior on February 5th, 2021.

A month later, on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021, a lawsuit was filed in Federal Court against Commissioner Halcovage for his alleged sexual harassment of four female county employees.

In May 2021, a judge granted two sexual violence Protection from Abuse orders against Commissioner Halcovage.

In October, the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission found that Commissioner Halcovage had subjected and continues to subject female employees to discrimination, retaliation, and harassment.

“Almost every single state and county elected official representing Schuylkill County has now called upon Commissioner Halcovage to resign,” said Argall. “We must take bipartisan action to address this situation. That’s why I have introduced this resolution.”

The resolution would establish a Senate Special Committee to pursue Article VI § 7 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which states that civil officers elected by the people shall be removed by the Governor for reasonable cause, after due notice and full hearing, on the vote of two-thirds of the Senate.

Following a comprehensive investigation by the Senate Special Committee, if two-thirds of the Senate votes against the Commissioner, the Governor is required to remove him from office.

The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is considering a similar effort, at the request of Schuylkill County State Representatives Knowles, Twardzik, and Kerwin. The resolution calls on the House Judiciary Committee to begin an investigation into Commissioner Halcovage’s actions and to determine whether impeachment is necessary due to the alleged actions and violation of public trust by the Commissioner.