Sara Innamorato, a former state representative and the Democratic nominee for Allegheny County executive, isn’t commenting on an investigation by her own party that found her current pollster had likely been abusive to his subordinates at work while running statewide campaigns years ago.
The silence is noteworthy because Innamorato has made allegations of bad workplace behavior an issue against her Republican opponent, Joe Rockey, suggesting that it’s a character flaw to continue working with someone accused of workplace misconduct.
Broad + Liberty reported last week that the Pennsylvania House Democratic Committee conducted an investigation in 2022 and found credible evidence behind allegations of workplace abuse by Ethan Smith, the committee’s executive director from 2012-14.
Smith was feted in a June article by WSEA as the pollster that had helped fuel Innamorato’s rise to capture the nomination she will test at the polls on Tuesday.
Innamorato’s opponent has used the Pittsburgh-based consulting firm Coldspark in the campaign, which has been roiled this year by a lawsuit in which a former employee says she was groped by a former superior at the firm. The incident allegedly happened in 2021.
But Innamorato jumped on the lawsuit’s allegations quickly to try and sully Rockey.
“Is Joe Rockey comfortable with a firm accused of ignoring sexual assault and creating a hostile work environment calling the shots on his campaign and profiting from him?” Innamorato posted on X. “Joe Rockey needs to fire ColdSpark.”
Multiple emailed requests for comment on Innamorato’s stance on Smith were not returned.
Smith also touts his work for Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey, and U.S. Representative Summer Lee, who won her congressional seat last year.
Innamorato’s finger-wagging at Rockey wasn’t exactly tidy, as Republican critics on X were quick to point out.
“Wait – your entire delegation in [the Pennsylvania House Building] covered up Zabel and you didn’t utter a peep. Where were you when women in the capitol needed your help?” State Rep. Russ Diamond fired back.
Diamond was referring to former State Rep. Mike Zabel, who resigned in March this year after a lobbyist alleged Zabel had groped her and refused to stop when she asked him to. Days after Zabel’s resignation, Spotlight PA reported that House Democrats had known about complaints and allegations against him going back to 2019, but had taken little action against him.
Similarly, Democrats have been conspicuously quiet about the more recent Harrisburg sex-misconduct scandal.
In late September, Broad + Liberty was first to report that Gov. Shapiro’s legislative affairs director, Mike Vereb, was the target of a sexual misconduct allegation that dated back to March. While the accuser quit her job and later reached a settlement with the office, Vereb stayed in office for another 200 days before he finally resigned.
An editorial writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said, the accusations against Vereb weren’t a secret either, saying, “as the harassment complaint itself and my own conversations with Harrisburg insiders make clear, everyone knew.”
Innamorato didn’t resign her seat to run for Allegheny executive until mid-July.
Democrats have controlled the office of Allegheny County Executive since 2004 and currently hold thirteen of the fifteen seats on the county council.
Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at email@example.com, or use his encrypted email at firstname.lastname@example.org. @shepherdreports