BY TONY WEST/ Embattled Gov. Tom Corbett enters this election year with a lot of problems in Southeastern Pennsylvania. But money isnâ€™t one of them.
The Republican incumbentâ€™s fundraising numbers for the 2013 calendar year were filed with the Dept. of State on Jan. 31. Raising $6,819,000 that year and with $10,322,000 in his coffers, he has outpaced any of his seven Democratic rivals. A good chunk of that change came from the five-county region.
Leading the pack are two noted local philanthropists, Dr. John M. (â€œJackâ€) Templeton, Jr. of the science-oriented Templeton Foundation in W. Conshohocken and H.F. â€œGerryâ€ Lenfest of the Lenfest Foundation. Dr. Templeton gave $420,000 to Corbett last year while Lenfest and a family member together contributed $265,000.
Of Corbettâ€™s 32 largest donors or donor groups last year, 12 come from Southeastern Pennsylvania.
For this survey, only donors who gave $10,000 or more were counted. Donors were combined into â€œdonor groupsâ€ when it is clear they are related or work for the same company. This was done to give a clearer picture of who the major players are.
Energy companies in the past have donated heavily to Corbett in support of his approach to Marcellus Shale gas development. But they do not figure heavily in last yearâ€™s funding. Lance and Mathias Shaner, capitalists who hail from Pittsburgh, may be an exception, with significant stakes in Marcellus development; they gave $110,000 last year. But they have many other interests (arena football in Pittsburgh, for instance).
The mysterious Red River Canyon Committee, which operates out of an address in canyon-free Harrisburg, gave $56,000; it may be energy-related. John Mark of Denverâ€™s Energy Corp. of America gave $50,000. But while three First Energy Corp.-related donors gave $49,000, this company which supplies electricity to half of Pennsylvania has traditional, non-fracking reasons for supporting a Governor as well. Corbett has been cashing big checks from Dallas, but they tend to be for under $30 grand.
Pennsylvaniaâ€™s other great signature industries donâ€™t make the top ranks either. King Coal did not invest top dollar in Corbett last year. Neither did Big Pharma or the health-care industry â€“ with one exception: four donors related to the National Label Co. in Lafayette Hill pitched in $50,000 to â€œTom Corbett for Governorâ€. Their specialty is pill-bottle labels.
Many of Corbettâ€™s heavy hitters are concentrated in classic political-donor fields: law, real estate, construction.
In law, Philadelphia dominates. Saul Ewing- and Ballard Spahr-connected contributions were tied at $55,000. Cozen Oâ€™Connor came in at $40,000. Stradley Ronon makes a statement with $33,900. (Smaller players were Duane Morris at $25,000 and Dilworth Paxson at $15,500.)
But the legal pack was led by the midstate-oriented firm of Stevens & Lee, four of whose principals gave $87,500 toward the Governorâ€™s campaign.
Other big Southeastern Corbett donors were the Maguire clan of the Philadelphia Insurance Co. and its employees. Four of them gave $95,000 to Corbettâ€™s reelection â€“ nice insurance indeed.
Comcast and its head honcho David Cohen together gave $70,500 to Corbett. Since Comcast enjoyed about $40 million in state grants to help build its landmark headquarters in Center City, a little positive feedback is understandable.
Other $30K+ Corbett supporters from the area were two King of Prussia investors, Mitchell Morgan of Morgan Properties and John S Middleton of Bradford Holdings. Each gave $50,000. Lewis Katz in Rittenhouse Square gave $30,000.
Lesser lights, but still shining in Corbettâ€™s Southeastern collection plate, were Aramarkâ€™s Joseph Neubauer ($25,000), two brothers from the portâ€™s Holt Logistics ($25,000), William A. Graham IV of Graham Co. in GladwyneÂ ($21,000), Abdur Rahim Islam of Philadelphia International Records ($20,000) and Charles Breslin of the public-relations firm Rittenhouse Consulting Group ($20,000).
Honorable mention goes to donors of $15,000: in addition to Dilworth Paxson, locals at this level were Anthony McIntyre of the McIntyre Group in Cherry Hill; Thomas Nerney of USLI Co. in Wayne; J. Brian Oâ€™Neill of Oâ€™Neill Properties in King of Prussia; J. Eustace Wolfington, retired, of King of Prussia; H. Edward Hanway, retired, of Media; J. Anthony Hayden of Hayden Real Estate in Gladwyne; and the Delaware Co. Republican Finance Committee.