Head of Pa. Republican party resigns following report of explicit messages

In this March 9, 2018 file photo, Val DiGiorgio, the Pennsylvania Republican Party chairman, talks with reporters during a campaign stop for Rick Saccone, at the party call center in Pittsburgh. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

In this March 9, 2018 file photo, Val DiGiorgio, the Pennsylvania Republican Party chairman, talks with reporters during a campaign stop for Rick Saccone, at the party call center in Pittsburgh. (Keith Srakocic/AP Photo)

Val DiGiorgio, chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party resigned Tuesday, hours after the Philadelphia Inquirer published details of lewd text messages he allegedly exchanged with Irina Goldstein, a Philadelphia City Council candidate.

“A recent media report contains gross mischaracterizations of mutual consensual communications between myself and a former primary candidate,” DiGiorgio said in his resignation letter. “My resignation should in no way be confused as confirmation of these mischaracterizations. I intend to rigorously defend myself against these assertions and protect my family, my colleagues, and the party from this private matter.”

The exchange reportedly began after DiGiorgio allegedly sent Goldstein a friend request on Facebook last October. The Inquirer’s story detailed a months-long exchange between DiGiorgio and Goldstein, including sexually explicit messages from both parties.

DiGiorgio was elected as state party chairman in 2017 and has been involved in the Republican party for decades, including as a local committeeman and county chairman, according to a party press release. He did not return WESA’s request for comment. A spokesperson for the family did not immediately return WESA’s request for comment.

“I have fought vigorously for our party – one that is defined by compassion, unity and inclusion,” DiGiorgio wrote in the letter. “Together, we have accomplished so much to be proud of over the past two and a half years. Together we have: shrunk the voter registration gap; elected three statewide judges; held the two most successful fundraisers in state party history; quadrupled the membership of the Pennsylvania Young Republicans; maintained state legislative majorities in the face of ‘blue wave’; and worked hard to recruit women and minorities for elected office.

DiGiorgio apologized to his family and colleagues for “this unfortunate distraction.”

Vice Chairman Bernadette Comfort will succeed DiGiorgio, following the party’s bylaws. Comfort was born in Philadelphia, raised in the Lehigh Valley and lived in western Pennsylvania for over a decade. For nearly two decades Comfort has led a leadership program to recruit and train Republican women to run for office.

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