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Politics & Government

Wolf Nominee Runs Into Questions Over Gosnell Case

The man picked to run the commonwealth's Department of State for the second time is facing criticism from lawmakers who didn't like how he performed the first time on the job.

But Gov. Tom Wolf is defending his nominee, saying the concerns being voiced about Acting Secretary of State Pedro Cortés are baseless.

He received a letter last week from House and Senate Republicans opposed to abortion rights charging that Cortés shares responsibility for the crimes of Kermit Gosnell, convicted in 2013 for killing three babies at his abortion clinic.

"What they're charging is wrong," he says. "They're saying that he had something that he could have done in the Gosnell case and he didn't. The truth is, he was legally prohibited from doing anything, because... in his role, he is sort of the appellate court."

The letter's signatories said Cortés, who served previously as secretary of state, was ultimately responsible for the agency's licensing investigators who failed to follow up on complaints against Gosnell.

Cortés has said that he couldn't have intervened in any licensing investigation without violating the due process rights of professional license holders.

He must receive a simple majority vote from the GOP-controlled Senate to be approved as a cabinet secretary.  

Eleven Republican senators signed the letter indicating their concerns.

It's unclear whether the link to the Gosnell case could threaten his confirmation.