Pa. Treasurer McCord resigns without explanation, to leave Feb. 12
HARRISBURG — State Treasurer Rob McCord unexpectedly resigned Thursday, telling Gov. Tom Wolf that he achieved his goals during six years in office. His spokesman deflected news reports that McCord is under federal investigation.
McCord, 55, a former venture capitalist from Bryn Mawr, said he intends to leave office Feb. 12, midway through his second term.
“It is time for me to return to the private sector, where most of my life’s work has been,” his resignation letter read.
Asked whether the treasurer’s office received federal subpoenas for documents or McCord received notice that he is the target of an investigation, his spokesman Gary Tuma deferred to “the law enforcement authorities on whether to comment on, or even confirm, any such inquiry.”
Wolf’s spokesman, Jeffrey Sheridan, said the governor’s office had no official or unofficial word that McCord is under federal investigation, as WPVI-TV in Philadelphia reported. The television station, citing anonymous sources, said the investigation involves misuse of campaign money and other funds.
Spokeswomen for U.S. attorneys in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh declined to comment.
Surprised by McCord’s resignation, state Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn of Millvale said he “has a right to defend himself if these (reports) are true.”
Wolf will appoint a successor until voters elect a treasurer to take office in January 2017. The job pays $156,264.
In a statement, Wolf praised McCord for serving “honorably and diligently,” saying he saved the state billions of dollars through oversight and modernization of the office and its programs.
Republican Diana Irey Vaughan, a Washington County commissioner, said she questioned McCord’s commitment to the office as his 2012 campaign opponent.
“He had no intention of staying the term,” said Vaughan. “His plan was to run for governor.”
McCord finished third in a four-way Democratic primary bid for governor last year, behind Wolf and former U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz of Montgomery County.
“It comes as a shock to me,” Chuck Ardo, a Democratic activist and former press secretary to ex-Gov. Ed Rendell, said of the resignation.
McCord designated Chief Counsel Christopher Craig as acting treasurer. Craig was an attorney and key staffer for ex-Sen. Vincent Fumo, a convicted felon, and played a major role in writing the state’s 2004 law legalizing casinos. Craig was never implicated in the corruption case that sent Fumo to prison.
The treasurer, auditor general and attorney general are independently elected row offices. Treasury oversees funds of virtually all state agencies.
“His expertise on public pensions will certainly be missed when the General Assembly addresses this lingering issue,” Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said. “Without a doubt, Rob’s financial acumen and experience helped the commonwealth navigate some very rough economic waters.”
The office invests money in low-risk government securities and bonds. It runs several programs, including one enabling citizens to get unclaimed property from years ago, and the state’s college investment option, the Tuition Account program. The unclaimed property program returned more than $100 million to Pennsylvanians in 2012.
McCord’s letter cited achievements such as preventing the diversion of the NCAA’s $60 million fine against Penn State, shortly after serial pedophile Jerry Sandusky’s conviction, to keep the money for Pennsylvania child abuse programs.
McCord touted his up-from-the-bootstraps background during his campaign. He was raised by a single mother, earned an undergraduate degree from Harvard University and master’s of business administration from the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School.
McCord co-founded a company that managed three venture capital funds and co-founded the Eastern Technology Council.
Heading into the gubernatorial primary, McCord and Schwartz were viewed as favorites; he held statewide elected office, and she had a track record in Congress and the state Senate. But Wolf, a political novice, spent $10 million on a TV advertising blitz for six weeks before other candidates began to advertise.
In one television ad, McCord implied that Wolf was a racist for backing a former York mayor, an admitted racist and former police officer charged and acquitted in 2004 in the death of a black woman during race riots in 1969. McCord’s ad sputtered, and black leaders in York rallied to Wolf’s defense.
Wolf begins his term in the unusual position of needing to appoint two Supreme Court justices and a statewide row officer to interim terms. They will need to be confirmed in the Republican-controlled Senate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media’s state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or [email protected].