Money in Politics | Outside money dominates in 54th legislative district

Due to having a very local focus on issues, we examined the campaign finance forms from the two campaigns that are running to represent the new 54th legislative district in the state house. This new district is compromised of the Borough of Conshohocken, Plymouth Township, and the Municipality of Norristown.

Both campaigns had issues submitting their forms to the Pennsylvania Department of State, which has a very cumbersome system for reporting these documents. Both campaigns provided their forms directly and in the case of Rochelle Culbreath’s campaign we were able to download documentation of three donations that came in since the last report deadline.

These numbers are as of Thursday evening. There could be additional donations that have not yet been reported.

Rochelle Culbreath

Documents provided by the campaign and available for review on the state’s website show that Culbreath has raised $60,138.58.

This number includes $2,483.26 in donations that are under $50, which the state does not require a campaign to specifiy who made the donations. Donations between $51 and $250 total $8,008.12. Large donations, $251 and up, total $49,647.

In regards to the donations above $51 that are required to be reported with an address, $10,756 was from donors within the 54th district. Included within this $10,756 is a single donation of $5,000 from Montgomery County Commissioner Ken Lawrence’s Friends of Ken Lawrence political committee. Very little money was raised from within the district.

Political Action Committees donated $30,450 to the campaign, which represents approximately 50% of what was raised. These donations include $15,000 from Restore PA, $5,000 from Friends of Ken Lawrence (mentioned above), $,1500 from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers Committee to Support Public Education, $1,000 from Emily’s List, and $5,000 from the Eastern Atlantic States Regional Council of Carpenters. All of this money except for Lawrence’s donation is from outside the district.

Sizable personal donations included $5,000 from Karla Jurvetson, a Silcon Valley physicain who donates millions of dollars to Democratic Party candidates across the country, $2,500 from Norman Wright, and $2,500 from Deb Ciamacca. All together there were 16 personal donations of $500 or more.

You can view a spreadsheet of Culbreath’s donations here. Late donations can be viewed here (note that Emily’s List donation of $1,000 appears on both documents).

Greg Scott

Documents provided by the campaign show that Scott has raised $80,992. This includes three loans Scott made to the campaign totaling $45,000, so $35,992 has been raised from individuals and political action committees.

We spoke to Scott before we received his campaign finance form. During that conversation he had bragged about having raised more money than Culbreath. As you can see, that isn’t really true.

His total includes $1,473 in donations $50 and under, which do not require reporting of the name and address of the donor. Donations between $51 and $250 total 8,969. Dontions over $250 total $25,500.

Unions represent seven of the eight donations from political action committees. Overall unions donated $20,750 and MB Investments, which is tied to J. P. Mascaro & Sons, donated $500. All of these donations originate from outside the district.

There are also four large donations not from committees. One is from Sean Kilkenny, who is the elected sheriff and his law firm has a wealth of contracts with local municipalities to provide legal services. Kilkenny donated $2,500. The other three total $1,800.

So how much is from within the district? The total we came up with is $2,478. A couple of things. First, we did not include the loans in the calculation. We also did not include the $2,500 from Sean Kilkenney as it was a personal donation. He lives in Jenkintown, but his Norristown business address is shown on the campaign finance form. If you think we should have included Kilkenny’s, just add $2,500 to our total.

You can view Scott campaign finance form here.

And please, as we mentioned in rergards to both campaigns, the donations of $50 or less aren’t provided with a name or address, so the amount raised from within the district is likely a little higher.

In regards to donations we could track to an address, $10,756 out of $60,138.58 from Culbreath was from within the 54th district. The number for Scott is $2,478 out of $35,992 (does not include the three loans).

So question for readers? Are you not asked to donate or chose not to donate?