Political Action Committee spending in Pennsylvania during the 2011-12 election cycle was again dominated by unions and liberal organizations, according to a biennial study released by the Pennsylvania Business Council and reported by MediaTrackersPA.
The Top Ten PAC spenders in the state, according to the report presented to state business leaders by PBC President David Patti, were:
Local 98, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers COPE â€“ $3.495 million. Significant contributions included $210,000 to Philadelphia Phuture PAC, one of IBEWâ€™s own PACs; $90,000 to the Philadelphia Democratic City Committee and $55,000 to State Sen. Anthony Williams (D-W. Phila.). Its leader is John (â€œJohnny Docâ€) Dougherty, head of Local 98 and the Democratic 1st Ward Leader.
Students First PAC â€“ $2.695 million. This PAC is comprised of business people interested in educational choice in the stateâ€™s k-12 schools. Its spending was down almost $4 million from the 2009-10 election cycle, when a legislative battle ultimately failed to expand vouchersÂ and other school options. In this cycle, it gave $525,000 to Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania, a conservative activist group frequently challenging incumbent lawmakers, $160,000 to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee and $100,000 to State Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver).
Laborers District Council PAC â€“ $2.2 million. This group gave $276,250 to Progressive Agenda and another $100,000 to State Sen. Vincent Hughes, minority chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee.
Committee For A Better Tomorrow â€“ $2 million. This PAC, comprised of state trial lawyers, gave $500,000 to the campaign of Democrat Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who was elected last year; $300,000 to the successful campaign of Superior Court Judge David Wecht in 2011 and $100,000 to State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf (R-Montgomery), chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
PSEA-PACE for State Elections â€“ $1.98 million. This PAC is run by the stateâ€™s largest teacher union, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, representing 182,000 education workers. It gave $97,500 to America Votes, a national leftist organization supporting programs such as Planned Parenthood, La Raza, People for the American Way and the Sierra Club. This union also gave $90,000 to the House Democratic Campaign Committee and $50,000 or more to State Sens. Vincent Hughes (D-W. Phila.), Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery) and Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny). State Reps. Joe Markosek (D-Allegheny), minority chair of the House Appropriations Committee, and Mike Hanna (D-Clinton) received $50,000 each from the teacher PAC.
Pennsylvania Future Fund â€“ $1.4 million. This PAC solicits funds for the Republican Party and gave $200,000 to David Freedâ€™s unsuccessful bid for Attorney General last year, $80,500 to the Republican State Committee and $60,000 to State Senate President Pro Tem Joe Scarnati (R-Jefferson).
LawPAC â€“ $1.4 million. Another trial-lawyer PAC that gave $61,000 to the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee and $57,500 to the House Democratic Campaign Committee. It also gave $30,000 or more to State Sens. Greenleaf, Costa, Scarnati, Majority Leader Dominic Pileggi (R-Delaware) and Matt Smith (D-Allegheny), as well as House Minority Leader Frank Dermody (D-Allegheny) and State Rep. Tom Caltigirone (D-Berks), minority chair of the House Judiciary Committee.
Carpenters PAC of Philadelphia and Vicinity â€“ $1.2 million. This PAC gave $113,000 to Scarnati, $110,000 to Pileggi, $100,000 to Republican Gov. Tom Corbettâ€™s campaign and $50,000 to Concerned Citizens of Pennsylvania, opponents of the stateâ€™s booming natural-gas industry.
Keeping America Competitive PAC â€“ $980,000. This is a pro-business PAC concentrating on small business, education reform and reduced government regulation. It gave $360,000 to the Pennsylvania Future Fund and $50,000 to the progressive America Votes Pennsylvania PAC.
AFSCME Council 13 â€“ $961,000. The American Federation of State, County & Municipal Employees represents thousands of government employees and gave $133,500 to the House and Senate Democratic Campaign Committees, more than $30,000 to Hughes and Markosek, and $45,000 to Democratic State Treasurer Rob McCord, whom Council 13 endorsed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Pennsylvania Business Council is a broad-spectrum business-advocacy group. It maintains a PAC of its own, which gives almost exclusively to Republicans.