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.

“ 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:


  • paulroden

    Well another incompetent fox guarding the hen house has resigned. What other industry favoring attorney will Governor Corporate give us next to head up the “Don’t Expect Protection” department? What ever candidate the gas industry wants, they will get in the DEP.

  • Jake Jackson

    How much you want to bet he’s already got a job with the gas industry? “Corbett continued efforts to have Pennsylvanian’s right to clean air and water protected” is a joke. Why then do we have HUNDREDS of families living without potable water for 6 years now? Our government isn’t helping them and neither is the industry. They are left to fend for themselves with big plastic water buffaloes in their yards! They all need to go to jail. This is unacceptable!

  • BobSchmetzer

    K K K = Krancer + Klaber + Korbett………..2 down , one to go ! When you take public office and bite the head off of democracy, the people bite back !

  • JimBarth

    Abruzzo’s appointment was a very sad example of the lack of leadership by Corbett, and the low level of friends and colleagues with whom the one term governor associated. Abruzzo is a thorough embarrassment to Pennsylvania, one of the most corrupt states on the East Coast. Imagine that.

  • Terance Healy

    Has Kathleen Kane broken the code which allows her to prosecute predators within the PA Govt?

    When will she expose the corruption caused when the ABA presented an unconstitutional Code of Conduct which the PA Supreme Court enacted into unconstitutional law in 1987? The thing that kept Kids for Cash so quiet… and foreclosed on homes through fraud. The ABA knew in 1983 that their ‘edit’ made the rules even more unconstitutional. Yet, they spread it to every state…. AND STOLE HOMES THRU FRAUDULENT FORECLOSURES NATIONWIDE.

  • Julieann Wozniak

    You just need a filler until Corbett is turfed out of office. Dave Hess would do nicely. He can be reasoned with, and he used to get out of his office, travel the state, and actually listen to citizen complaints. Oh. Wait. They’ll pick another imperious ideologue. Never mind.

  • Aaron Mason

    When is Corbett going to resign? Just like with Sandusky, he’s balls deep in this. No, he and his lackies would rather waste our tax dollars on investigations to try and smear Kane.

    I guess they should have kept their noses clean, being the family values and personal reponsibility party and all…

  • pghsheep

    You who have not had a filthy, trashy spam mail sent to you or your family please stand up.

  • Alexander kathara

    If a true investigative reporter read the lawsuit of Francine delciello the forensic accountant who was uncovering waste and abuse in the health department ( public record) Corbett would never get re elected. That was the real reason they pushed Avila out. The reporter Angela and Todd shamash and the restaurant owner with the made up egg incident all happen to be friends. Of course this is all fiction. Read the lawsuit and find out what the outcome was. Ha Transparency would be refreshing. Ask how many cabinet meetings were held? Ask what happened to the detailed tracking health fracking plan written by Avila that got squashed.

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