Normally I stay out of Philadelphia politics. When I was going over the quarterly FEC reports for the collar counties I dipped into the reports for Philadelphia’s congressional representatives. A few things surprised me so I’ve done a little more digging. Here are some observations on the reports from 1st district Congressman Bob Brady’s campaign, from the post-general 2010 election, year end 2010, first, second, and third quarter 2011 reports. To provide some context, I found a Dec. 20, 2010 article by Brad Bumstead and Mike Wereschagin in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, “Campaign expenses: chocolates, meals, flowers, club dues,” that looks at the 2010 FEC reports statewide.
As always I encourage residents of the district and other interested parties to review the reports for themselves, at www.fec.gov. A standard caveat on these reports: I am not a lawyer or an accountant and apologize in advance or any errors or misconceptions.
No Little People. In most reports you have contributions that are itemized and unitemized. The unitemized reports are under a particular threshold (I think it is $250) over the length of an election cycle. Donations over that amount are itemized, with the donors’ names, address, occupation and employer listed. Unitemized donations are folks like me, who might send in $50.00 or attend a $35.00 fundraising picnic, the so-called “little people.” Congressman Brady has no little people. Over the five reports I reviewed there were relatively few unitemized donations, $600 in the post-general, none in the year end, $175 in the first quarter, none in the second or the third. Over almost an entire year he received only a total of $775 in unitemized donations. That’s really surprising. Congressman Brady’s money comes from larger individual donations and from PACS, although it is more from individuals than PACs.
Bob Brady, Car Guy. Bumsted and Wereschagin noted that Brady spent $34,000 on car leases over the year they reviewed. I found similar expenses. His car lease payments for the post-general were $2,623, year end $550, first quarter $5,528 in lease payments plus fees for a lease buyout and a new lease for $4,484, second quarter $5,208, third quarter $5,208. That’s a total of $23,601. Granted, it’s a savings of nearly $11,000 from Bumsted and Wereschagin but, yowza! That’s a lot to spend on cars. You could buy two nice used cars for that amount, or one really nice new one. I looked at car leases in the Sunday paper a couple of weeks ago and you could lease a Cadillac Escalade for $800 a month. I don’t know what you can get for $5,208 a month, but it has to be at least two vehicles. And they might be gas guzzlers because he spends a lot on gas, too. In the post general the campaign spent $160.00 on gas, none in the year end, $1,100 in the first quarter, $920 in the second, and just under $2,000 in the third quarter. He loyal to Sunoco and Lukoil. Sunoco returns the sentiment, as their PAC donated $7,000 so far this year. A 2009 article by Tom Infield, “How Bob Brady thrives and survives,” in the Inquirer (8/25/2009) notes that Brady drives home from Washington most days. That might explain the gas costs and why he makes regular payments to NJ EZ Pass ($400 in the first and second quarters, $585 in the third).
Lawyers and accountants and bears, oh my! In the quarterly reports there are some notable payments for legal and accounting services. In the first quarter it is $4,000 for accounting, $5,000 for legal. In the second it was $3,000 each. In the third it was $11,000 for legal and $3,000 for accounting. The accounting fees might be for FEC compliance, $19,000 in legal fees seems like a little more than general campaign matters would require. The campaign also makes regular payments to a fundraiser. In the post general she was paid $9,500, $21,000 in the first quarter, $10,000 in the second quarter, and $10,500 in the third quarter.
Real Estate Matters. The campaign paid $4800 to a company for a year's worth of office rent. Interestingly his campaign website (www.bobbrady.us) lists as the mailing address something that seems to be in a residential area, and it is also listed as the address for his treasurer and his fundraiser.
There are a few other odds and ends but I’ll leave a little mystery for the curious to discover on their own. (Someone named Meehan donated in the second quarter. It’s a common name, but still, ….)