Thursday, May 06, 2010

A Look at Tom Corbett's Campaign Finance Reports

Having looked at the campaign finance reports of three of the four Democratic candidates it seemed like a good time to skip across the aisle and look at one of the Republicans, Tom Corbett. Keep in mind that I can only go by what is on the state’s website, and I have found an error on there before. Also, I’m neither a lawyer or an accountant, and use paper and pencil instead of a number crunching computer program. Nor is this a complete list of what is on the reports; it is just a selection. Voters are encouraged to review the reports themselves for full information. I did find something rather startling and that information is italicized below.

There are two reports for Corbett for Governor on the state’s website, One is for the end of 2009 and the other for the first part of 2010. During that time he raised a total of $6,022,554.88, spent $2,012,277,65, and had $4,010,277.66 on hand. The campaign received an additional $213,949.11 in in-kind donations. Of the amount raised, a little over half, $1,289,689, came from PACs. There were a total of 405 PAC donations and 4,328 contributions from others; this is not equal to the number of donors as some people and organizations contribute more than once.

Those are very large numbers of donors and many of them donated large amounts. It made my head spin just to review it. Usually in these blog posts I look at donations from $5K up but that just won’t work here,, so we’ll look primarily at total donations between the two reports of $25K or larger with some mention of “smaller” contributions. Perhaps the largest amount came from the Friends of Tom Corbett, $351K. A woman in Florida donated $180K. (She is married to the CEO of a Marcellus Shale drilling firm, see “State needs limits on campaign spending,” Inky 4/02)The Brabender Cox firm donated $120K. Samuel Black of Erie Management gave $100K, as did John Templeton, Jr. and Vahan Gureghian. Robert Asher donated over $90K, and is chairman of the PA Future Fund which donated an additional 74K. Stanton Sheetz of Sheetz Inc, donated $55K and the Sheetz PAC donated a further $15K. In other drilling and energy areas, John Catsimatidis of the Red Apple Group in NY, affiliated with United Refining, donated $50K. James Clifford Forrest III of Rosebud Mining donated $55K. C. Alan Walker of Bradford Energy donated $40K. There are $25K donation from people who work at Blaschak Coal, Vineyard Oil & Gas, S W Jack Drilling, and Gilberton Coal. The First Energy PAC donated $20K; the Independent Oil & Gas Association PAC donated $18,600.

There is another cluster of donors associated with real estate development and construction. Someone at a company that works in construction but also mining equipment donated $30K, individual(s) at West Realty donated a total of $75K. Someone at McCormick & Taylor donated $30K, Berwind Property Group, $25K.

There are an assortment of other $50K donations, and quite a number of smaller donations. It all just boggles the mind.

One other donation jumped out at me. On 3/29/2010 there is a $1,000 donation from Constantine N. Papadakis, whose occupation is listed as being President of Drexel University. This is notable as Mr. Papadakis died on 4/05/2009. It could be a donation made by a family member on an account that still had Mr. Papadakis’s name on it. Or it could be an error made when the information was transferred from paper to digital form before being loaded onto the state’s website. I’ve run into that before when working with these reports. Or the information could have been garbled when it was originally reported. But I rather think that Mr. Papadakis did NOT make a campaign donation a few days before the first anniversary of his death.

The in-kind donations are for the standard office space and food and beverages. A few things caught my eye. Vahan Gureghian, who donated $100K also provided $34K in “ticket costs” as an in-kind donation. That’s a lot of tickets. Mr. Corbett also received over $10K in in-kind air transport. There is also a $162 in-kind donation listed for a website link from the Friends of Jim Cawley site to Corbett’s. Cawley is a lt. gov. candidate. That must be some site he has if a link from it is worth over $100.

Looking at disbursements, there is a whopping $546K total to the PA GOP for salaries and related costs. Brabender Cox, the firm that donated $120K, was paid over $280K Two individuals were paid $18K each in commissions plus what appeared to be a monthly retainer. The campaign paid $24K for a car from a Chevy dealer, and there are several payments to the Harrisburg Parking Authority. KC Consulting received nearly $200K. The campaign paid PNC Bank Credit Card Services received nearly $30K with no breakdown on how the money was spent. The David All Group was paid nearly $70K.

Again, voters are encouraged to review the full reports themselves.

This is going to be an interesting election!

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