LEBANON, Pa. (WHTM) — Lebanon County’s legislative team is responding to Governor Tom Wolf’s admittance of withholding Federal CARES funding from the county.

Wolf withheld nearly $13 million in funding from Lebanon County, where local Republican leaders voted in mid-May to lift pandemic restrictions in defiance of the Democratic governor. Wolf’s decision left Lebanon as the only Pennsylvania county to have been cut off from $625 million of federal coronavirus relief money distributed by the state.

Lebanon County Representatives say, “The governor is wrong, his motive is improper, and he may be in violation of provisions of the CARES Act and other federal or state laws.”

Senator Dave Arnold, State Representative Russ Diamond, State Representative Frank Ryan, and State Representative Sue Helm said in a statement:

The Governor’s presumption of what Lebanon County Commissioners did with their May 15 resolution is absolutely wrong. The Commissioners’ resolution only applied to county-run facilities. As such, moving to yellow was actually meaningless, as local governments were exempt even under the governor’s draconian stay-at-home orders. The resolution included no directives for businesses, and in fact clearly stated the businesses were still subject to limitations at the civil and state level.

House Bill 2510, as signed by the Governor on May 29 as Act 24 of 2020, created the $625 million
COVID-19 County Relief Block Grant program. Section 130-C of Act 24 clearly lays out the
requirements and formula for a determination of a county’s share of that funding, and does not authorize the executive branch to add additional requirements.

According to the Governor’s logic, 66 counties – including those experiencing massive protests over the last month in which Wolf personally participated – are entitled to Federal CARES relief, but one county where businesses weren’t told to open by county commissioners is being punished. After childishly calling us cowards and deserters, and accusing us of surrendering and being selfish and unsafe, this latest admission by the governor comes as no surprise. We believe this to be a discretionary act with improper motive. A discretionary act with improper motive is a definition of misbehavior in office, and may be actionable.

The governor is wrong, his motive is improper, and he may be in violation of provisions of the CARES Act and other federal or state laws. This is an incredible insult to the 140,000 people who have chosen to live in Lebanon County, and we are considering every available avenue of recourse to protect our constituents from his petty tyranny.


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