Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo resigns amid lewd email scandal

DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo (left) resigned from his office today.   Dana Aunkst (right) will now serve as Acting Secretary. Here, the two testify at the department's senate budget hearing in Harrisburg.

Marie Cusick

DEP Secretary Chris Abruzzo (center) resigned from his post today. Dana Aunkst (right) will now serve as Acting Secretary. On the left is Deputy Secretary Jeff Logan. Here, the three testify at the department's senate budget hearing in Harrisburg in February.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Chris Abruzzo has resigned his position, according to a statement issued by Governor Tom Corbett. The resignation is effective immediately. It comes amidst a scandal involving several top Corbett officials exchanging lewd emails.

Abruzzo is one of eight Corbett appointees recently named by the Attorney General’s office as having sent or received pornographic emails on state computers. Some of the emails were shown to reporters, but the information was released without details as to who sent what to whom.

In a letter to Gov. Corbett, Abruzzo says he doesn’t remember the emails but accepts “full responsibility for any lack of judgement I may have exhibited in 2009.” At that time, Abruzzo worked under Corbett in the Attorney General’s office leading the Drug Strike Force. Current Attorney General Kathleen Kane says Abruzzo and others exchanged the lewd emails between 2008 and 2012, while Corbett served as AG.

In the letter, Abruzzo says he has not reviewed the emails Attorney General Kane has shown to reporters, but decided to resign because the issue has become a distraction.

“..it is my concern that these assertions have become a distraction from the great record of this administration; a record that has held the line on taxes for Pennsylvania families, invested the most state dollars for basic education in the history of the state, and put hard-working Pennsylvanians back to work.”

With the election just a month away, Corbett faces a tough fight against his challenger Democrat Tom Wolf.

Corbett appointed Abruzzo to run DEP as interim secretary in April 2013, after his predecessor, Mike Krancer left to work as an attorney for the energy industry.

Abruzzo has no background in environmental issues, having spent much of his career as a criminal prosecutor.  

Abruzzo’s confirmation as DEP secretary attracted some controversy when he told a senate committee he was unaware climate change can cause harm.

In a statement, Corbett thanked Abruzzo for his “dedicated service.”

“Our environment and natural resources are better protected today due to his leadership, as well as the hard work of the men and women of DEP,” wrote Corbett.

Dana Aunkst, Executive Deputy Secretary for Programs, and an engineer with the department for the past 22 years, will serve as Acting Secretary of DEP.

Read Abruzzo’s resignation letter below:

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