Money in Politics: The Political Contributions of One Attorney

While examining campaign finance reports for the Conshohocken Democratic Committee, Building Colonial’s Future (the Democratic campaign umbrella for school board candidates), Plymouth Victory Committee (the Democratic Party campaign for Plymouth Township Council) and Friends of Jason Salus (see below), there are a handful of names and organizations that appear repeatedly, but one name really jumps out at you.

Attorney Michael Clarke, of Rudolph Clarke, has donated at least $46,750 to the various campaigns mentioned above since 2011. As you will see, the bulk of it went to Friends of Jason Salus. Salus then uses this money for his own campaigns and then spreads some of this money around through donations, using other people’s money, to other campaigns.

Salus is a former Borough Council member in Conshohocken (Ward 1). He is currently the elected Treasurer for Montgomery County. More importantly, he is the Area Leader for the Democratic Party for the municipalities of Conshohocken, Plymouth and Whitemarsh, which makes up the Colonial School District.

In this role, Salus helps select who runs and more importantly, who gets the party’s backing and money. Through this he has political influence throughout these municipalities, the school board and government agencies.

Below are the totals donated by Clarke to the various campaigns. Generally we looked back to 2011. For Building Colonial’s Future we only looked at 2017.

Colonial School District

In 2017, Michael Clarke donated $2,500.

Was appointed to position of solicitor in January of 2018.

Conshohocken Democratic Committee

Since 2011, Michael Clarke has donated $10,500.

Has been appointed to the position of solicitor for the Conshohocken Sewer Authority since at least 2010.

Has been appointed to the position of solicitor for the Conshohocken Zoning Hearing Board since for at least a two or three years (maybe more).

According to the website for Clarke’s firm, he also is the solicitor for the Conshohocken Borough Civil Service Commission.

Friends of Jason Salus

Hold on to your hat. Since 2011, Michael Clarke has donated $27,500 to Friends of Jason Salus.

Clarke is not Salus’ solicitor for the Montgomery County Treasurer’s office. Curiously, that went to attorney, John Zurzola, who states on his firm’s website that he “concentrates his practice on family law matters to include complex divorce and child custody cases as well as in assisting clients who require pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.” Sounds about right. Zurzola use to be President of the East Norritown Township Board of Supervisors.

Clarke does get significant legal work from the Treasurer’s office. From the Facebook page of Rudolph Clark:

Plymouth Victory Committee

Since 2011, Michael Clarke has donated $6,250.

Was named solicitor at the reorganization meeting held early January 2018. The board flipped from Republican to Democratic Party control.

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This only reflects Clarke’s campaign donations in’s coverage area (and we didn’t even look at Whitemarsh). His other positions, as detailed on his website, include solicitor for:

  • Abington Township
  • Falls Township
  • North Wales Water Authority
  • Schwenksville Borough Authority
  • Upper Merion Transportation and General Authorities
  • Whitemarsh Township Authority
  • William Jeanes Memorial Library
  • Montgomery County Orphans Court and Register of Wills Office
  • Norristown Area School District
  • Pennsbury School District
  • Central Bucks Regional Police Commission Civil Service Commission
  • Morrisville Borough Civil Service Commission
  • Narberth Borough Civil Service Commission
  • Municipality of Norristown Civil Service Commission

Now take the almost $50,000 we documented just for’s coverage area and think if similar levels are donated in the other municipalities where he has been appointed.

As we are going to continue to show in this continuing series, the vast majority of the money that comes into local campaigns is not local and is mostly special interests groups, political action committees, unions, and those whose businesses benefit from municipal contracts. Very little comes from neighbors and friends of candidates.

More to come.

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