HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — After being appointed by Governor Tom Corbett in 2013, Pennsylvania Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm was nominated for a second six-year term by Governor Tom Wolf.
On Monday, the state Senate rejected her nomination by a resounding 32-18 vote. Storm insists the Senate’s thumbs down is a vendetta.
“This is personal. This is a hit job on my position,” Storm said Tuesday. She further asserted she is the victim of a politcal powerplay by senate heavyweights like President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson).
Scarnati urged fellow senators to vote against Storm’s confirmation Monday afternoon. He made claims of his own.
“It is immensely troubling to me and others that Jennifer Storm is currently being investigated by the state ethics commission, a fact which she failed to disclose to a majority of members of this Senate,” Scarnati said.
Storm disagrees strongly.
“Senator Joe Scarnati lied on the [Senate] floor yesterday when he said I didn’t report the investigation,” Storm said.
Additionally, Storm says, Scarnati violated ethics rules by even revealing that an investigation is ongoing. Storm confirmed the investigation but said the allegations it’s basedupon are false and drummed up to create a cloud over her confirmation.
“It was a tactic that is historically used to weaponize political appointees,” explains Storm, “get them under investigation, and that way you can jam up their appointment so you can then jam up their career.”
But opposition to storm is bi-partisan. Senator Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia) also spoke against Storm’s nomination.
“Jen Storm has failed us,” Street said on the senate floor Monday.
Street argued that Storm focuses too much on victims of “suburban sex crimes” than inner-city violence.
“When people are murdered on the streets of Philadelphia when people are murdered in my district, Jen Storm hasn’t been there. She doesn’t care,” Senator Street said with great conviction.
Storm insists Street is angry that she refused to support his bill that would give prison “lifers” a chance at parole.
“Anyone in the Commonwealth who has ever murdered somebody who is serving a life sentence, he (Street) wants them all to become parole eligible,” Storm said.
According to Storm, her biggest “crime” was supporting statute of limitations reform for sex-abuse victims and criticizing Scarnati for bottling up the legislation.
“I believe that the statute of limitations reform needs to happen. I believe that it’s constitutional. I believe Joe Scarnati blocked it. I believe he took money from the Catholic church to do so. I believe he took money from the lobbyists to do so.” Storm said.
Scarnati urged his fellow lawmakers to vote no on Storm’s nomination. An overwhelming majority of them did just that.
Despite failing to be re-nominated, Storm said she intends to stay on as “Acting” Victim Advocate. She says Gov. Wolf supports her, as does state Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). Costa argued that Storm has been a good Victim Advocate and that she deserved better.
“To me, it’s reprehensible that that’s the path that we tried to go down,” Senator Costa said.
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