UPDATE: Despite a disturbing lack of qualifications or a hearing on the nomination, Drew Crompton was confirmed by the Senate by with a 42 to 7 vote on December 18, 2019.
Due to a recent retirement, Governor Wolf has an opportunity to fill a vacancy on the Commonwealth Court, one of Pennsylvania’s two intermediate appellate courts. The Governor would have had to work hard to make a worse choice than Drew Crompton.
Crompton’s name isn’t likely one that most Pennsylvanians are familiar with, but he has worked for the Senate for over two decades. He currently serves as Chief of Staff and counsel for Pennsylvania Senate Pro-Tempore Joe Scarnati. Over the course of his career, Crompton has been on the periphery of ignoble moments in Pennsylvania’s recent history. Two stand out, and are worthy of special attention.
In 2005, Crompton authored a memo suggesting that activists exercising their First Amendment rights in advocating for the repeal of the “midnight pay raise” should have to register as lobbyists. Concerning the memo, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review stated, “It suggests an orchestrated plan of attempted intimidation that, to this day, we believe is worthy of a Justice Department investigation.”
In 2006, Crompton took three months of “unpaid” leave from the Senate to work on Lynn Swann’s gubernatorial campaign. He then, remarkably, received a $19,647 bonus. This activity resulted in an investigation by the Attorney General’s office. Although no Senate Republicans were charged with wrongdoing, a similar scheme among House Democrats resulted in multiple arrests and convictions.
Crompton’s role in the Senate would raise serious questions about his impartiality in legal cases. How will his involvement in the drafting of legislation, public statements, and issuance of internal documents impact his ability to hear cases? How many plaintiffs or defendants will seek his recusal? How disruptive will it be for the Senate to have parties to cases file suits seeking email communications on legal matters authored by Crompton?
In the entirety of Pennsylvania, there certainly must be more qualified candidates to serve out a term on the Court.