The nonvanishing of gluonic pole matrix elements can explain the appearance of single spin asymmetries in high-energy scattering processes. We use a spectator framework approach to investigate the spectral properties of quark-quark-gluon correlators and use this to study gluonic pole matrix elements. Such matrix elements appear in principle both for distribution functions such as the Sivers function and fragmentation functions such as the Collins function. We find that for a specific class of spectator models, the contribution of the gluonic pole matrix element in fragmentation functions vanishes. This outcome is important in the study of universality for fragmentation functions and confirms findings using a different approach. © 2008 The American Physical Society.