Pa. Victim Advocate Jennifer Storm announces her resignation

    Jennifer Storm speaks during a House hearing on Marsy's Law in 2019. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso).

    State victim Advocate Jennifer Storm announced her resignation Friday, two months after her bid to serve a second term was shot down by the state Senate in what she deemed a political witch hunt. 

    Storm, who has led the state Office of the Victim Advocate since 2013, remained in her post for weeks after the Senate voted 31-18 in November to reject her nomination from Gov. Tom Wolf to serve another six-year term. 

    Storm’s first term technically expired in December 2019. She led the office for nearly a year as the Senate sat on her nomination. But she told the Capital-Star on Friday that she didn’t see a path to stay any longer.

    She said she would continue her victim advocacy through private consulting once she resigns on Jan. 29. 

    “There really wasn’t a whole lot that could be done,” said Storm, who announced her departure in a press release on Friday morning. “I’m stepping away knowing I did my job with fidelity, honesty and integrity.”

    As state victim advocate, Storm oversaw an office with a $3.5 million budget to administer county-level services for victims of violence and abuse. She also weighed in on proposed legislation on behalf of registered crime victims and their families. 

    She says that work put her at odds with powerful Senate Republicans in 2018, when then-President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, blocked a reform measure for victims of clergy sex abuse. 

    Democrats, meanwhile, have criticized Storm’s stances on criminal justice legislation, saying her support for harsh sentencing has contributed to mass incarceration. 

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    The Senate first mobilized against Storm in September by moving to create new criteria for the state victim advocate that would render her ineligible for the post. 

    But her reconfirmation vote reached an ugly pitch two months later, when Scarnati revealed on the Senate floor that Storm was the subject of a state ethics investigation. 

    The details of state ethics probes are confidential, and won’t be made public unless someone with knowledge of an investigation reveals it’s underway. 

    Storm confirmed last year that she had been named in a complaint alleging she’d used her public office for private gain. But she said Scarnati sparked the investigation and then made it public to whip up votes against her.

    She said Friday that she had not been contacted by state investigators, and that the probe didn’t affect her decision to resign.  

    “The Senate did what it did and that’s on them,” Storm said. “It’s time for me to move on.”