Wolf reshuffles cabinet ahead of second term

Gov. Tom Wolf is reshuffling his cabinet as he prepares for a second term.

Wolf said Wednesday that he is replacing the people atop his departments of state and aging, the latest changes the Pennsylvania Democrat has announced ahead of his inauguration on Jan. 15.

Wolf's office said the move will take effect Jan. 7.

The shakeup comes as Wolf's Office of State Inspector General wraps up a report on the Department of Aging's oversight of elder-abuse investigations by 52 county-level agencies tasked with fielding and responding to complaints that can involve physical abuse, self-neglect or financial exploitation.

Frustrated by shortcomings it had identified in elder-abuse investigations, the department last year began grading counties on a more aggressive compliance schedule after telling some they had failed, sometimes repeatedly, to meet regulations and expectations.

Wolf's office said the forthcoming inspector general's report has nothing to do with the personnel change.

Wolf will nominate Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne to the Civil Service Commission and replace her with Robert Torres, who has been acting secretary of state since Wolf forced out Pedro Cortes in October 2017.

If confirmed by the Senate, Torres would become the first secretary of aging in eight years who did not come from one of the 52 county-level area agencies on aging that the department oversees.

Kathy Boockvar, an elections adviser at the Department of State, will succeed Torres at an agency that oversees elections, campaign finance regulations and professional licensure.

Boockvar previously was the executive director of Lifecycle WomanCare, a birth center in suburban Philadelphia, and chief counsel at the Department of Auditor General after starting her career in public interest law.

Her appointment comes as Wolf's administration presses every Pennsylvania county to buy new voting machines that leave a paper trail in time for the 2020 presidential election. The price tag could come to $125 million, but Wolf says the move is crucial to giving voters confidence in elections.

With a large number of voting machines that do not create an auditable paper trail, Pennsylvania is viewed as one of the most vulnerable states after federal authorities say Russian hackers targeted it and at least 20 others during the 2016 presidential election.