April 12, 2024

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These are the 10 best-funded PACs in Pa. politics | Monday Morning Coffee

Good Monday Morning, Fellow Seekers.

We already knew that the 2022 primary races were going to be big-money games.

As we’ve previously reported, outside groups already have fire-hosed more than $12.8 million into the Republican race for U.S. Senate. Democratic U.S. Senate candidate John Fetterman recently passed the $15 million mark in a contest that’s grown increasingly pugilistic. And the nine GOP candidates for governor collectively have raised more than $13 million over the past 15 months.

And, now, thanks to the folks at Ballotpedia, we have a look at the 10 best-funded political action committees that are active in the 2022 races across the commonwealth. And their collective haul is nothing to sneeze at.

First up, the bottom line: Non-candidate PACs in Pennsylvania raked in an eye-watering $229.5 million by year’s end last year, according to Ballotpedia’s analysis. And that total likely has grown since these groups have been out there shaking the fundraising trees for the last four-plus months.

The top 10 PACs raised more than $81.5 million, or more than a third (36 percent) of all donations that were made to state-level PACs, the Ballotpedia analysis found.

In an April 3 postBallotpedia said it based its analysis on the groups’ most recent filings with the Pennsylvania Department of State. The totals cover the 12 months between 1/1/21 and 12/31/21, according to Ballotpedia.

State Sen. David Argall, R-Schuylkill, the chairperson of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, one the big-money groups, according to Ballotpedia.

Here are the top 10 biggest PACs, according to Ballotpedia, and their 2021 donation totals:

  1. DNC Services Corp/Democratic National Committee: $24.98 million
  2. Student First PAC: $13.52 million
  3. Commonwealth Children’s Choice Fund: $12.9 million
  4. Pennsylvania Democratic Party: $4.84 million
  5. American Federation of Teachers/AFL-CIO COPE: $4.71 million
  6. Pa. House Republican Campaign Committee: $4.71 million
  7. Local 98 International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Committee on Political Education: $4.69 million
  8. Senate Republican Campaign Committee: $4.03 million
  9. National Democratic Redistricting Committee: $3.69 million
  10. Democratic Governors Association Victory Fund: $3.41 million
Josh Shapiro about to speak a press conference
Attorney General and 2022 Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Josh Shapiro at a press conference outside Harrisburg on March 24, 2022. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Like we said up top, it’s the usual mix of party committees, with a couple of surprises thrown in for good measure.

For those not in the know, Students First is a political action committee formed in 2010 by former Washington D.C. schools official Michelle Rhee.

According to an analysis by Transparency USA, the group largely has been bankrolled by pro-school choice billionaire Jeffrey Yass, of Montgomery County, who’s backing the candidacy of GOP gubernatorial hopeful Bill McSwain, through political action committees controlled by veteran conservative activist Matthew Brouillette, of Harrisburg.

And if the National Democratic Redistricting Committee sounds familiar, that’s because the plaintiffs behind the congressional map the state Supreme Court picked back in February had ties to the group’s dark money affiliate, the National Redistricting Action Fund, the Capital-Star previously reported.

In case you were wondering, Pennsylvania wasn’t even the most egregious offender when it came to deep-pocketed PACs. Ballotpedia looked at PAC fundraising across 11 states last year.

In all, PACs raised $1.2 billion across those states in 2021, with Florida leading the way at $394 million, the analysis found.

The Homer City Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant in Indiana County, is one the plants locals are concerned could shutter under RGGI, a proposed cap-and-trade program to limit carbon emissions. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

Our Stuff.
In this week’s edition of The Numbers RacketCassie Miller takes a look at the state of CO2 emissions in Pennsylvania as Earth Month continues.

And, if you missed it: Cassie’s rundown of the meaningful actions you can take to help the planet during Earth Month, and her interview with the state’s new outdoor recreation czar, which both were published on Sunday, also are well worth your time this Monday morning.

Today is Tax Day 2022. Ever wonder if the day will come when the government does the hard work and fills out your tax form for you? Erik Gunn, of our sibling site, the Wisconsin Examinerdelves into that very scenario.

From Brittany Hailer, of the Pittsburgh Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, here’s the harrowing story of one Allegheny County woman’s search for answers to her husband’s death after he was arrested by local police.

Our partners at the Philadelphia Gay News profile the candidacy of Andre Carroll, an openly gay Black man, who’s challenging state Rep. Stephen Kinsey, D-Philadelphia, in the May 17 primary.

On our Commentary Page this morning: Opinion regular Dick Polman worries about what will happen to France, and the European alliance, if Marine Le Pen beats French President Emmanuel Macron in a run-off election. And the great Jackie Robinson was a radical. Don’t listen to the sanitized version of history, an Occidental College scholar writes.

Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman [Capital-Star photo by Cassie Miller]


The Inquirer takes a deeper look at Lt. Gov. John Fetterman’s fundraising edge in the U.S. Senate race.

The Post-Gazette reviews Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey’s first 100 days in office.

Pennsylvania’s Republican gubernatorial candidates will face off during a debate on TuesdayPennLive reports.

LancasterOnline previews the race for the city’s new 49th House District.

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission has approved the sale of York’s wastewater system to a private company, the York Daily Record reports this morning.

Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley residents will soon be able to cross the border to buy recreational marijuana in New Jersey. But here’s what they risk if they bring it back home with them, the Morning Call reports.

WHYY-FM also has a users’ guide for Philadelphia residents who might be thinking about crossing the border when legal weed sales begin on Thursday.

The Citizens’ Voice takes a look at efforts to reduce poverty in Luzerne County.

SpotlightPA has its voters guide for the 2022 primary race for governor (via WITF-FM).

Ukrainian refugees will be resettled in Erie. GoErie runs down what’s known thus far about that effort.

PoliticsPa has its list of last week’s winners and losers in state politics

Stateline.org looks at schools’ efforts to combat worsening mental health among teenagers.

President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden paid 24.6 percent tax on $610,000 in income, their new return shows. The Bidens reported earning nearly $62,000 in book royalties, Roll Call reports.

Here’s your #Harrisburg Instagram of the Day:

What Goes On.
The House is out of voting session until April 25. The Senate comes back on April 23. The desk is otherwise clear. Enjoy the silence.

As of this writing, Gov. Tom Wolf has no public schedule today.

You Say It’s Your Birthday Dept.
Belated best wishes go out to Harrisburg PR exec, David La Torre, who celebrated on Sunday. And best wishes go out this morning to Mallory Gricoskie in Gov. Tom Wolf’s office, who celebrates today. Congratulations all around.

Heavy Rotation
Here’s the new mixtape from English drill rapper Digga D. It’s ‘Noughty by Nature.’ And this one is really something special.

Monday’s Gratuitous Baseball Link.
Baltimore rallied late, scoring five runs in the eighth inning, to break a scoreless tie, and beat the visiting New York Yankees 5-0 on Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards.

And now you’re up to date.