PA GOP Short Staffed & Under Funded: Report

Heading into the 2018 midterm elections the Republican Party of Pennsylvania is facing fundraising and staffing issues, combined with a contentious Gubernatorial primary that is dividing some members of the Party.  

According to City & State the PA GOP finished 2017 with just $15,000 in their accounts, barely enough to keep the lights on at headquarters.  

During the 2017 judicial elections the party had about 15 employees, which according some was a sign of under staffing issues that have continued into this year.  A spokesman confirmed to City & State the identity of four permanent staffers, all recent hires. In the past six months, five senior level staffers either left, or gave their notice.  

“I think we usually had about 20 people; in presidential years, we probably had over 200, including field staff.  One of the most effective things I was able to do was hire good staff. But you need a lot of money to do that,” former PA GOP Chairman Rob Gleason told City & State.  

GOP operatives, speaking anonymously to City & State, agreed that the staff levels at state party are lower and put the blame on either financial strains of not having enough money in the bank or “some unspoken misconduct.”

The issues at the state party lead to some grumblings about the leadership of current Chairman Val DiGiorgio.  DiGiorgio took over as Chairman in a hotly contested race at the start of 2017.

In a letter to state party leadership following the City & State article, DiGiorgio took issue with the report’s accuracy.

“In the article it talks about how we were left in good financial footing at the start of our administration. This is not true. When we started we had less money in the bank then was needed for one month of operating expenses, no staff and $160,000 in debt, at which we have chipped away,” DiGiorgio wrote of one point of contention.

DiGiorgio also took issue with the idea that the lower number of staffers is truly an issue for the party, saying he “made the conscious decision to operate with leaner staff and to put money directly into campaigns. As a result, we put about $350,000 directly into the GOTV effort for the judicial candidates, a type of investment the party had not previously made in statewide campaigns.”

DiGiorgio has recently entered into the feuding between Gubernatorial candidates Paul Mango and Scott Wagner, making several statements in support of Wagner.  The state party voted to endorse Wagner in the GOP’s primary.

In a letter obtained by PoliticsPA, six state party members wrote a letter to DiGiorgio asking him to “rescind your claim” that state committee members knew about the issues Mango’s campaign brought up about Wagner.  

“The fact is, Paul Mango’s claims against Scott Wagner have already been heard and rejected by the elected state committee members, who at our meeting in February, overwhelmingly endorsed Scott Wagner to be our candidate for Governor,” DiGiorgio said.  

“We would respectfully contest this statement that you made on behalf of the entire Republican Party of Pennsylvania because we had no idea that State Senator Scott Wagner was involved in these disputes. You may have known about the issues Mr. Mango highlights in his advertisement, but none of these issues were ever disseminated to the State Committee as you claimed in your statement,” the party members wrote.  

Letter to DiGiorgio by Paul Engelkemier on Scribd

Though those six state party members took issue with DiGiorgio and Wagner, other state party members are coming forward in support of Wagner.

“It’s been almost two and half months since we had the opportunity to select you to lead the fight against Tom Wolf this coming fall. Our Party endorsed you for many reasons, but above all else, we wanted you as our nominee because we saw that you were a proven fighter. We believed you would be able to take on whatever attacks the Democrats threw at you and overcome them,” a letter signed by 24 members of state committee reads.

“While we did not think that you would need to tap into that fighter’s mentality until the General Election, the way you have handled the inexcusable smears on your character over the past few weeks has reinforced to all of us why you were the right choice for us, both then and now.”

The state party has also not filed a finance report with the Pennsylvania covering the first quarter of 2018.  The lack of a report could simply mean the filed late with the Department of State, or that they did not spend enough money to require filing.  

PoliticsPA has reached out to the PA GOP for comment.  

Disclosure: The author formerly worked for the Pa. Republican Party.

April 25th, 2018 | Posted in Front Page Stories, Governor, Harrisburg, Top Stories | 37 Comments

37 thoughts on “PA GOP Short Staffed & Under Funded: Report”

  1. Dave H. says:

    The State Committee members asked for this and they deserve what’s coming. When they voted for DiGiorgio, they made a pact with the devil. The republican party is doomed, in my opinion. The cracks are getting bigger and the walls are starting to crumble. Good luck losers!

  2. Sean says:

    The party apparatus is a joke. The party is run by old white men with pitchforks.

  3. David Diano says:

    The GOP inbreeding of dumb policies and stupid candidates has produced the inevitable result.

  4. Insider Told You So says:

    The serious and damaging baggage Wagner is carrying is hardly secret and the state GOP knew about it but chose instead to not go out of their way to make sure state committee voters knew (because, as is obvious at this point, had they known many of them would never have supported Wagner).

    It’s also known he’s basically purchased his endorsement via sprinkling county GOP committees with badly needed funding and those county chairs made sure their state committeepeople returned the favor by delivering votes for Wagner.

    It’s always mystified me that with the demonstrable drag on our ballots last November because of resistance to Trump, that the GOP would go with a candidate who walks and talks a lot like Trump and looks a lot like Steve Bannon. Such a candidate MIGHT win the primary but in a Dem-majority state, certainly won’t win in November.

    Did they really think the Dems would sit on this gold mine of Wagner baggage? I applaud Mango for doing the job the GOP should have in making sure voters have the information they need to make an informed vote in the primary – as it’s supposed to work.

  5. Patriot says:

    Gleason lost in 15. Val won in 17? Tell me who ran a better organization. The guy who won a Supreme Court race or the guy who lost three?

    1. Elephants Have Long Memories says:

      You need to get your facts straight! DiGiorgio also lost all the Supreme Court races in 17. DiGiorgio did win a SUPERIOR race in 17 (but if you remember it was the one non-party endorsed candidate that won).

      And Gleason won Vic Stabile for Superior in 13, Anne Covey for Commonwealth in 11 and then Gleason delivered a major republica sweep in 09.

      1. Patriot says:

        No you need to get your facts straight!

        There was one Supreme Court seat open in 17. Her name is Sally Mundy and she’s a republican on the bench.

        1. Really? says:

          She was already on the Supreme Court. Not really a big feat to elect someone that already has the title.

  6. Confused says:

    I’m confused why DiGiorgio is complaining about being $160,000 in debt. Finance reports show he was left with over $100,000 cash on hand when he took the reigns. $60,000 in a year and half should be nothing for him to raise coming from affluent highly educated Chester county.

    1. Deplorable Voter says:

      Val is “toast”, after Gov. Wolf clobbers whomever in November…

  7. EvilBobCaseyIV says:

    Interesting smear article, but I don’t really buy it. I will agree that the State Party can certainly be run BETTER than it is today. It is widely seen as disorganized and slightly deflated after the 2017 cycle, but to say that don’t have money and aren’t out in the field is a plain lie. I’ve had various interactions with PA GOP staffers in the field during the current cycle and they certainly don’t seem understaffed. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if they DID actually take a step back during this hotly contested Gov Primary. But they are certainly out there. They usually have better numbers in staff than the Dems and lets face it, the Republicans win elections because they knock the doors, make the phone calls and go out and work for it. Should be no different.

  8. Don Providence says:

    Sounds like some of their hotties need to go down to Savanah’s on amateur night and shake it for the team!

  9. GOPStaffer says:

    Gleason lauds himself on his party management. Talk to some former pagop employees about their time under Gleason and you’ll likely hear more than a handful of horror stories. Not all of which are tied to money…

    Staff had been grossly underpaid for many cycles (underpaid even for political work) Field staff w/o the influx on cell phones and tech from the rnc and national groups wouldn’t be able to arm their field staff with the tools they need to do their jobs. In rnc and gop circles, Pagop is NOT a state you want to work in bc of the state party culture.

    Appointments of unprofessional and inexperienced staff over qualified staff were/is frequent. Stories run rampant of harrasment on a number of levels including towards volunteers, committee members and staff.

    And folks are shocked that the pagop has no money…

    1. Former PA GOP Donor says:

      A baseless accusation with no actual proofin the PoliticsPA comment section? I am SHOCKED.

    2. Western Virginia Man says:

      Yeah I worked at the PA GOP under Gleason for a few years. It was not a perfect place but none of the above is true.

      The RNC provided phones so this person above clearly never worked in the field or is just making things up. Pay is poor in politics everywhere. Under Gleason the state party actually raised money and funded a field staff. Christmas bonuses every year. Val seems to not be able to pay to keep the lights on. I know who I would choose…

      Rob Brooks should get a better Politics PA login than “PA GOP Staffer” LOL!

  10. Former Committeman says:

    A party chair is much like a college president, their real position is chief fundraiser. Gleason did manage to fundraise.
    That said, how and where did he spend the money he raised?
    1. To enhance his own power and entrench him in the position.
    2. How many really good key staffers left because of how mismanaged the GOP was?
    3. Information was not freely shared and not freely available.
    4. Technology was always a generation behind and they paid too much for it because the leadership was not techno-ignorant
    5. Completely negative smear campaign strategy, often times against their own party challengers, using party money.
    6. Endorsed candidates who were not candidates.
    7. The aforementioned misuse of part donations has led to people donating to the candidates of their choice which often is not the endorsed candidate.

    Val needs to openly advocate for the change of the endorsement system itself if he wants to turn the corner.

    The public pays for primary elections to be held. Why? Seriously folks, why is the public paying for a private entity to chose their own party candidate? Yes, they have the right, but do we have the responsibility to foot the bill? NO!

    Until we pass legislation that requires political parties to pay for their own primary if they endorse candidates, the good-oldboy-process remains.IMHO, I think they lack the intestinal fortitude to do the right thing.

    1. Former Committeman says:

      Correction:
      4. Technology was always a generation behind and they paid too much for it because the leadership was not techno-savvy
      6. Endorsed candidates who were not good candidates.

      1. Chestetcogoper says:

        Id argue that the pagop endorsed candidates that paid for themselves or offered some kind of or incentive to the party. There are exceptions but why spend $$$ and political capital when we know and think we will loose. Pagop thinking 101.

  11. john says:

    Val going to look bad after this election. Wolf and Casey hold, dem congressional pick ups..Batten down the hatches.

    1. Little Val says:

      Ok so 2018 might not go so well but who can argue with the awesome 2017 we had?????

  12. David Diano says:

    “DiGiorgio took over as Chairman in a hotly contested race at the start of 2017.”

    Sounds like DiGiorgio might be experiencing what happened to Jim Burn (a deliberate effort to underfund the party to make him look bad, after defying Wolf in 2014).

    1. Isaac L. says:

      PA Dems staff has pretty much always been relatively lean. There were plenty of years when having 15 people on staff would have been considered living large.

      A deliberate effort to under-fund the party is a contradiction in terms or perhaps a distinction without a difference: either you can raise money or you can’t. If you can’t raise money, then you probably shouldn’t be in leadership, and is indicative of deeper problems.

      Donations, by their very nature, are freely given, and not owed. If donors don’t like what an organization is doing, they are free to find other avenues for their contributions or to withhold them altogether.

    2. David Diano says:

      Isaac-

      There is a HUGE distinction, because not only did Wolf not give money to the party, he actively discouraged donors who normal would give. That’s sabotage. Also, Marcel Groen (when chairman of Montco) refused to have Montco participate in state party dinners/fundraisers, where they normally would have several tables.

      A deliberate boycott and actively encouraging others not to donate is just pure political pettiness by authoritarians like Wolf and Groen, who refused to accept the state committee members deciding to keep a chairman that they liked over the alternative pushed by Wolf.

  13. gulag Pittsburgh says:

    so happy to see the GOP chickens coming home to roost and finding the nest fouled by themselves

  14. Black Tuesday says:

    Draining the swamp in Washington, D.C. requires the tributaries in the states (PA) to have their swamps drained too. This little indiscretion is just the edge of this miry mess, it gets much worse. Naturally, Val DiGorgio wanted a puppet with a big ego, deep pockets and lots of sins to manage him with, Wagner fit the job perfectly. But more concerning is why others didn’t speak up sooner? The swamp is very deep and its creatures are very cunning…stay tuned this saga continues.

  15. tiredofcronies says:

    So wagner has shelled out 335k to the gop, cant get a conservative consensus to save his life(currently losing in a Daily Item poll to mango), and thinks wolf is going to ignore all of these glaringly controversial background. To boot, the GOP is undermanned and broke, and compromising is voters values by backing a guy like wagner, misleading it’s committee members on his controversial background, and the conservative citizens of PA are the ones to blame for all of this? I think not. Vote Mango and clean house. We need to start from scratch with new blood, otherwise PA will be more like CA in few years.

    1. Concerned Republican says:

      Lawrence Tabas would have been 10x the chairman Val is.

      1. Tired says:

        Better or taller?

    2. W. Clark says:

      You’re citing an online newspaper poll that has Libertarian Ken Krawchuk beating Tom Wolf? I knew Mango supporters were a little slow but surely you can see the writing on the wall.

  16. John Galt says:

    Gleason acts like he left a well oiled machine… Yea okay. Where was he in 2015 when all four state supreme court candidates were swept? That led to a nice redistricting decision this year. Maybe if Gleason actually fundraised beyond his one ‘super donor’ the party wouldn’t be in this position. Sounds like a lot of sour grapes from the former chair.

  17. Buckle Up says:

    This is all before they nominate two statewide candidates that are unhinged extremists and Turzai drags all the moderate/sane Republicans into the right-wing gutter so they are even more vulnerable and its all gonna get worse if Val’s “misconduct” becomes less “unspoken”. My fellow Republicans should be very worried.

    1. Concerned Republican says:

      What misconduct has Val committed?

      1. Chestetcogoper says:

        There are a number of accusations regarding val’s personal behavior and interactions with key party players (I don’t know, I don’t really care as it’s personal as this is gossip) and treatment of his county committee members.

        There are also many who feel he purposely undermined trump in his home county.

        Beyond that no idea…

  18. yerkiddenright says:

    The GOP State Committee is just a bunch of clubby, out-of-touch insiders who have lost even the scant residual respect of their base. Smart money is going directly to candidates. The committee has been a disaster for years. The old chairman couldn’t and the new one can’t put a word in print or open their mouths without expressing something extraordinarily foolish.

    1. Dilbert Pickles says:

      You’re absolutely right. Candidates do not need the party to raise money or run a campaign. Those that do need the party for grassroots organization and fundraising are disappointed because the party can’t deliver on either. They have to long cow tailed to the fringe so no one is willing to invest in the party if the money is spent on losers.

      1. Former Committeman says:

        The irony in all of this is the power of the Southeast Caucus who wants to retain the endorsement system because they wield enormous power in the selection process. But, what candidate wins in the southeast on a statewide basis? Rarely any! The Southwest is pro-endorsement, but at least the can put up a candidate that can win a statewide race.

        The good-old-boy system is based in the reasoning that it is better to lose an election(s) and retain power than to win elections and potentially lose it.

  19. John says:

    No money, no staff, no new ideas, sounds like a Blue Wave coming.

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