Pennsylvania Republicans are criticizing Governor Josh Shapiro over his handling of sexual harassment allegations made against one of his top aides who recently resigned. 

Several female Republican lawmakers, led by Senate President Pro Tempore Kim Ward, have questioned why the aide was allowed to remain in his position for months after his accuser came forward. 

The Democratic governor on Thursday broke his silence on the scandal involving his former Secretary of Legislative Affairs Mike Vereb, who resigned in September nearly six months after he was accused of harassment by a female subordinate. 

“The fact that this is a personnel matter, I can’t comment on any specifics and that’s really designed to be able to protect all parties involved in any matter,” Shapiro told reporters Thursday at an appearance in Bethlehem to announce new funding for recreation and conservation projects, according to PennLive. 


Vereb, a former Republican state lawmaker, resigned from his role as the governor’s liaison to the state legislature in September. The resignation came after a female deputy secretary who worked in the legislative affairs office accused him of regularly making lewd and sexually inappropriate remarks, PennLive reported. 

“According to a draft of a Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission complaint obtained by PennLive, the women said she could no longer work in an environment where she was regularly subject to lewd and sexually inappropriate comments from Vereb. She also said she was retaliated against when she complained,” the report said. 

Shapiro spokesman Manuel Bonder would not comment on the specifics of the personnel matter but noted the Commonwealth “takes allegations of discrimination and harassment seriously.” 

“Robust procedures are in place for thoroughly investigating reports of discrimination and harassment – and these procedures are implemented whenever complaints of discrimination or harassment are made and provide detailed guidance to help ensure that allegations are promptly and fully investigated and that employees feel comfortable to report misconduct,” Bonder said. 


Pressed to respond to Republican criticisms, Shapiro told reporters Thursday to “consider the source when it comes from the president pro tem.” 

GOP officials blasted Shapiro’s response. “There are legitimate questions about the handling of harassment allegations inside Governor Shapiro’s office,” said Michael Straw, the communications director for the Pennsylvania State Republican Campaign Committee. “Instead of taking the opportunity today to be transparent and answer a question on a serious topic, he attacked the credibility of the first female Senate President. Pennsylvanians deserve answers from Josh Shapiro.”

The accuser’s attorney, who refrained from commenting on his client’s case specifically, also criticized the governor’s remarks about Ward. 

“Legitimate questions or concerns expressed by elected officials–of either party– about sexual harassment in the workplace shouldn’t be dismissed in such a cavalier fashion. That response is beyond disappointing,” said attorney Charles Pascal, chairman of the Armstrong County Democratic Committee.


Bonder told Fox News that the governor was referring to Ward’s longtime opposition to legislation that would increase the statute of limitations on sex crimes

“For years, Senator Ward has refused to run a bipartisan bill to give survivors of sexual abuse their day in court to hold their abusers accountable,” Bonder said. “The Governor finds that unacceptable, and as soon as the Senator decides to allow a vote on the bill, he will proudly sign it to deliver justice and accountability to survivors all across Pennsylvania.” 

Ward did not respond to a request for comment. 

Shapiro also said Thursday that his administration is led by “two strong women,” referring to his Chief of Staff Dana Fritz and General Counsel Jennifer Selber, according to PennLive. The governor said that together they work for a safe work environment for all Commonwealth employees. 

“Should anyone feel that we’re not meeting those standards, we have an independent robust professional process to allow people to come forward safely and have their concerns heard,” Shapiro said. “That’s something that I’m committed to. The leaders in my administration are committed to. And that is something we adhere to in every case.”

Democratic State Sen. Lisa Boscola, who was at the event with Shapiro, said several female Democratic lawmakers met privately with the governor to discuss the matter. 

“We came out of that very confident that he is handling this, his administration – and he is right. He has two powerful women that know what they’re doing when it comes to personnel issues,” Boscola said. “So I’m very confident him and his administration is handling this as best as they can.”