Military Veteran Lawmakers Fight Back Against Governor Labeling Them Cowards

HARRISBURG Several state lawmakers who are military veterans are demanding Gov. Tom Wolf apologize for offensive statements he made today, directed at those critical of his executive order closing Pennsylvania businesses.

At a news conference today, Wolf used a military analogy to lash out at lawmakers and Pennsylvania business owners critical of his coronavirus mitigation strategy. Wolf likened his strategy to war and vilified the politicians and business owners who disagree with him as cowards. He said they have decided to surrender to the enemy, and he blamed business owners for choosing to serve their customers by putting them in harm’s way. “These folks are choosing to desert in the face of the enemy,” Wolf said.

Rep. Frank Ryan (R-Lebanon), Sen. Ryan Aument (R-Lancaster), Sen. Doug Mastriano (Adams/Cumberland/Franklin/York), Reps. Tim O’Neal (R-Washington), Greg Rothman (R-Cumberland) and Andrew Lewis (R-Dauphin) made the following statement in reaction to the governor’s remarks:

“As members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate, we take our responsibilities and oath of office to the constitutions of the United States of America and to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania with great seriousness. The governor should also know that our oath of office is to the constitutions and our constituents not to one individual.

“We are proud that Maj. Dick Winters was a significant presence in Pennsylvania, and his legacy is a powerful example of strength under fire. In the movie, ‘Band of Brothers,’ Maj. Winters then a lieutenant had to stand up to his commanding officer, Capt. Herbert Sobel, when it mattered most. We, as legislators, feel that we must stand up for our constituents and Commonwealth as Dick Winters stood up to Capt. Sobel. Major Winters’ courage and fortitude demonstrated true leadership and saved the lives of hundreds, if not thousands, of American service members during World War II.

“Those of us who have been in harm’s way understand brotherhood and the responsibility of command. It is called presence of mind. Defying inconsistent directives from the Department of Health that have indirectly caused significant loss of life in veterans’ homes, nursing homes and senior centers, we are compelled to exercise our leadership and command presence necessary to provide the appropriate checks and balances in our government of three co-equal branches.

“As U.S. military veterans, we are deeply offended at the governor’s flagrant use of military analogies to rail against private business owners and their elected representatives who were exercising their responsibilities. The governor’s remarks were shocking and extremely offensive. He demonstrated a complete lack of decorum and grace that is well beneath the dignity of his office. The public, veterans and lawmakers he attacked deserve an immediate apology.”


Representative Frank Ryan
101st Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives