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PA-Sen: Q2: A Deep Dive Into Sestak’s FEC Report

Joe-Sestak-headshotWith the release of his FEC records, Joe Sestak confirmed some of the fears national Democratic leaders have over his second campaign for Senate.

Sestak raised just $728,000 during the second quarter of 2015, compared to his former (and potential future) opposition, Sen. Pat Toomey, who pulled in over $2.2 million over the same period.

The financial gap between Sestak and Toomey is only growing larger as Toomey now has over $6 million more to spend on his campaign than the former U.S. Congressman.

While 53 New Yorkers donated almost $160,000, Sestak found most of his support close to home, with 244 of his 413 donors coming from PA. In-state donors contributed more than $225,000 in the second quarter and $686,000 in total for Sestak.

89 people have given the individual donor limit – $5,400 over the first two quarters, while 67 lawyers have chipped in more than $186,000 to get the retired Navy Admiral back to Washington.

Sestak picked up over $30,000 from administrators and professors at Harvard, Temple, Penn State, Drexel, New York and Boston Universities, as well as the Universities of Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh. Two grade school educators also chipped in $2,700 between them.

Political action committees have all but deserted Sestak, with only three donating during the second quarter: Empire PAC, NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s leadership PAC – the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees PAC, the largest trade union on public employees in the country – and The Council for a Livable World Candidate Fund, which “advocates for a more principled approach to U.S. national security and foreign policy.”

ActBlue, an online fundraising service to connect small donors and liberal candidates, has raised over $356,000 for Sestak so far. Over the last 10 years, ActBlue has collected and donated more than $777 million for Democratic campaigns.

Sestak even picked up $400 from a Toomey – 85-year-old Mary Toomey of Mount Wolf – although she shares no relation with the junior PA senator.


From April 1 to June 30, the Sestak campaign spent $235,000, less than a quarter of what Toomey what spent.

Only $33,240 was spent on consulting fees, though most of the consultants also appear on campaign payroll entries. Sestak paid out $27,183.37 to two fundraising groups, a seemingly counterproductive move for a campaign struggling for money.

Sestak’s biggest expense came when paying a cool $50,000 for access to the PA Democratic Party’s voter file, a precious source of voter information.

11 Responses

  1. Troglodyte

    I pointed out how Sestak was abusing his campaign account by covering his brother’s health insurance, but not for his real full time staff.

    His ploy of calling them “consultants” to dodge employment taxes and benefits is going to get him in trouble if the FEC looks into it closely.

    The way he handled his brother’s “employment”, paying for heath care and payroll taxes, but not for anyone else is going to sink him.

    It’s all there submitted in black and white for FEC to see.

    A little push from McGinty campaign for an investigation and Sestak could find himself embroiled in a scandal.

  2. How’s your mom’s basement Diano? You trash dead relatives of candidates and expect to be taken seriously. Go work on your failed life’s work (voter web). if it wasn’t clear, everyone who reads your comments (regardless of opinion) thinks you’re pathetic. Try to get a single other commenter to back you up. Oh wait, you’ve proven time and again that they won’t.

  3. Anonymous

    I doubt he will win. I hate to see dems throwing good money after bad with this guy.

  4. David Diano: Get a life. Please. Every time I come here, I find you bashing Sestak. You know he’s gonna win, and thrn you can spend the rest of your life fruitlessly bashing Senator Sestak. Good luck with that.

  5. ExPhiladelphian-

    More “certain” than “likely”. He’s been doing it for a while. When his brother was alive, Joe did list him as “payroll” at about $89 per month, and $500 in health insurance. Yeah, nothing suspicious about that. If the McGinty campaign is smart, they’ll have a forensic accountant go through Joe’s filing for the past 2-3 years. Lots of interesting nuggets in there.

    The next time you actually understand the content or analysis of a posting will be the first time.

    The DCCC doesn’t have to “actively subvert” Sestak. He’s done that all on his own by the way he’s treating the party and infrastructure. Now, he’s left begging for crumbs.

    Sestak is not some maverick standing up to Dems on policy issues. His beef stems from the fact that he won’t with the party in an intelligent manner to help himself and other candidates. Instead, Sestak prefers to burn resources as inefficiently as possible and hire yes-men (and yes-women) who don’t have the experience, confidence, self-respect or other employment opportunities to stand up to him.

  6. “Only $33,240 was spent on consulting fees, though most of the consultants also appear on campaign payroll entries.”

    This is probably because Sestak is likely misclassifying his regular employees as independent contractors.

  7. My guess is that the DCCC is actively subverting Sestak’s fund-raising efforts, and by the way, the next time the Prolific poster David Diano posts something informative and or not smarmy will be the first time. My vote goes to Sestak because he is not a slave to the DCCC.

  8. “89 people have given the individual donor limit – $5,400 over the first two quarters”

    What is the breakdown of Sestak’s Primary vs General election money?

    When Sestak first started his renewed bid, he raised about $400K a few weeks before the reporting period. It was almost all entirely max donations for Primary + General, so about $200K was earmarked for general.

    If 89 people gave 5,400 the past two quarters, then 89 x $2,700 = $240,300 would be for the general, and not available against McGinty.

    Add that to the first $200K and we have $440K, not counting any general election earmarks he raised during 2014 or after the first quarter of 2013.

    So, his $2.1 million cash on hand, is probably $1.5 million or less for the primary. When he ran against Specter, he was able to divert $4 or $4.5 million from his Congressional account. That’s three times the cash on hand he’s got now (and won’t have for statewide advertising).

    And, he can’t tap any of the max donors any more.

    Given McGinty’s support from all quarters (and Sestak begging for quarters), the fundraising battle should be decisive by the end of the year.

  9. Unknown
    Maybe the labor unions found out how he treats his employees and realized that they’d be hypocrites to support someone who abused his staff so badly.

    In 2008, Sestak supported Hillary and she was sending his @ss all over the country. I once overheard him whining about it at an event about just getting back from Nevada. And, if memory serves correctly, he was in New Hampshire election day 2007, and voted absentee.

    But, his tie was with Bill, not Hillary, and he claims to have met with Bill the night Specter announced party switch and Bill supported him running.

    Hillary has her own people/connections, and whatever quid pro quo deal Sestak had with the Clintons for mutual endorsements could have run it’s course by now.
    They must realize that Sestak is dead weight.

    As for the FEC report, Sestak likes to pay his staff as “consultants” to dodge wage taxes and benefits. Another reason for labor not to support him, and for FEC to investigate him.

  10. Here is something to ponder: in times past, Sestak commanded overwhelming support from labor unions throughout the Commonwealth. In truth, in 2010, he was among the largest recipients of union campaign dollars in the country. Why have labor union chieftains in the Commonwealth (such as Turzai’s favorite, Wendell Young IV) and beyond abandoned the former Admiral?

    Another question: in 2006, 2008 and 2010, the Clintons actively supported Sestak’s bids for public office. Now, they too, have abandoned him. Sestak has also been remarkably silent with respect to Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, and he has not endorsed her.


  • Understanding that basic education funding should/will be first, what should be the next highest priority for the General Assembly?

    • Raising The Minimum Wage (25%)
    • Legalizing Adult-Use Marijuana (24%)
    • None of the above. Something Else. (20%)
    • Economic Development (14%)
    • Higher Education (8%)
    • Public Transportation (8%)
    • Workforce Opportunities and Innovation (2%)

    Total Voters: 51

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