The Political Fortunes of Kendra Brooks

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From $0.00 to Elected Official in 12 Months

COUNCILMEMBER Kendra Brooks made history when she won a minority Philadelphia Council seat – but not as a Republican. Here are some of the numbers that fueled her campaign.

Kendra Brooks, and her running partner, Nicolas O’Rourke, ran impressive campaigns. Today, we will explore the finances of Friends of Kendra Brooks, who won a City Council At-Large seat running on the Working Families Party ticket. Money talks in politics and candidates who talk politics successfully learn how to talk money as well.

Friends of Kendra Brooks started 2019 with $0.00 in the bank. Its 2019 cycle 4 report was apparently filed three times (amended twice). Between Jan. 1, 2019 and Sept. 16, 2019 the political committee raised $147,657.81. An impressive $15,236.19, or roughly 10%, came from contributions of $50.00 or less. According to reporting regulations, these contributions are aggregated, and not broken out by date or by contributor.

$29,653.60 of this total, or approximately 20% of total contributions, came from non-PAC donations of $50.01 to $250.00. No PAC contributions were received in this category.

The Brooks campaign received $27,039.02 in the first 8.5 months of 2019 from individuals. This accounted for approximately 18% of the contributions. The rest of the money came from PAC contributions of $75,729.00. This accounted for more than 51% of contributions.

Part D of the report (all non-PAC contributions more than $250.00) lists several large donations, including one from Helen Gym for $500.00. We also found an instance of one donor giving eight contributions for a total of $5,320.00.

On the In-Kind contribution side, the largest contribution was from Bonfire Media Collective for Video Cost of $6,990.00. They are listed as an LLC on the Department of State’s website.

On the expenditure side, the largest expenses for the campaign appeared to be payroll and petitioning. Expenditures for the period were $25,499.58. Friends of Kendra Brooks ended 2019 cycle 4 with $122,158.23 in the bank.

2019 cycle 5, which covered Sept. 17, 2019 to October 21, 2019, began with the same $122,158.23 in the bank, and saw contributions of $65,667.67. $13,349.17 of this money, approximately 20%, came from donors that gave less than $50.01. Approximately 60% of the funds came from individual donors in the form of contributions of $50.01 or more. Two contributions totaling $12,500.00 came from Pennsylvania SEIU COPE.

On the big contribution side from non-PAC donors, the largest contributions received were from a New York donor for $5,750.00, and a San Diego donor for $5,800.00.

Neighborhood Networks in West Philadelphia gave two contributions totaling $3,201.94 for outreach as in-kind gifts. PA Working Families Party contributed $4,800.00 in-kind for video production, and three contributions in-kind totaling $5,280.00 for legal services. Reclaim Philadelphia PAC gave $6,130.54 for organizing labor.

On the expenditure side, the larger expenditures appeared to be for outreach, payroll, and consulting services. Expenditures totaled $27,531.04, leaving $160,294.86 for the election day push.

The report for 2019 cycle 6, covering Oct. 22 to Nov. 25, included spending for election day, was filed three times by Friends of Kendra Brooks (amended twice). The campaign started with the same $160,294.86 in the bank. It received $21,151.01 in contributions, of which $6,460.61 (almost 31%) came from contributions of less than $50.00. Donors who gave between $50.01 and $250.00 gave $5,550.00 (approximately 26%.) PACs gave $5,990.40 (28%) and large donors (more than $250.00) gave $3,150.00, or almost 15% of the total contributions.

PAC contributions included Friends of O’Rourke PAC, which gave two contributions for $5,490.40. 5th Square PAC also gave $500.00. On the non-PAC side, the largest contribution came from a donor in Washington, D.C. – two checks for $1,000.00 each. For the period, Friends of Kendra Brooks had $181,445.87 to spend on the election.

Three in-kind contributions totaling $8,016.35 were received from PA Working Families Party for legal services, housing costs, and video production. Reclaim Philadelphia PAC gave $6,130.54 for organizing labor.

Many of the expenditures by the campaign that took place on or around election day were for payroll and outreach. Large expenditures included four payments to Red Horse Strategies in Washington, D.C. for $122,881.40 for communications. The Sunshine Bar in Philadelphia received $2,500.00 for event cost, and Working Families National PAC received a refund of $2,545.00. Total expenditures for the period were $172,347.26, leaving $9,098.61.

David Lynn is an independent political consultant living in Philadelphia. His occasional blog,, explores election results and campaign finance. His free election campaign software may be found at

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