Report: PA Supreme Court Ad Spending Hits $2.4 Million

moneyPennsylvania Supreme Court candidates have spent $2.4 million so far on TV ads for this Tuesday’s primary.

That is the conclusion of the Brennan Center for Justice and Justice at Stake, who combed through FCC records.

The highest spending has been Kevin Dougherty who has contracts out that total over $1 million. Elsewhere in the Democratic primary, David Wecht spent $440,000 while both John Foradora and Anne Lazarus expended $200,000 each.

Dwayne Woodruff and Christine Donohue don’t appear to have booked any TV spots.

Over in the Republican primary, the biggest spenders are Michael George and Judy Olson. George is in for $200,000 and Olson $30,000 yet they’re also sharing a $170,000 buy. Meanwhile, Anne Covey is spending $140,000 on commercials.

Correale Stevens, Cheryl Allen and Rebecca Warren haven’t spent any cash on TV ads.

“The recent upswing in spending raises concerns about fundraising pressure on judicial candidates,” said Alicia Bannon, Counsel at the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law. “Historically lawyers, law firms, and special interests have been major contributors to Pennsylvania judicial candidates, raising concerns about how fundraising may impact judges’ decisions on the bench. We need stronger protections to insulate judges from the appearance of bias.”

The record for spending in PA judicial elections is $4.6 million, which was set in 2007. If the general election continues along the lines of the primaries that mark should be eclipsed.

“Unfortunately, it looks like Pennsylvanians could be heading for an historically costly battle over three Supreme Court seats,” said Bert Brandenburg, Executive Director of Justice at Stake, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that advocates for fair courts. “The TV ad dollars are multiplying literally overnight, and this is just for the primary. The spectacle of so much spending, on top of recent scandals affecting the Court, ought to put insulating judges from money and political pressure at the top of Pennsylvania’s agenda.”

3 Responses

  1. The State Supreme Court is a very important component of our Commonwealth ‘s Judiciary Process.. It is a shame that money will influence some voters over truly qualified candidates for the State Supreme Court. Remember having the most money from special interests does not make that person a good candidate for the Court. Especially on the Democratic Ticket where in some cases there is a lot of Republican money backing a candidate. Take the time to check all the Candidates profiles and cast educated votes in the Primary. This is to important of an election to vote uninformed.

  2. I think you have to look into who is donating large sums of money and why. If The candidates are getting much smaller amounts but in volume it is clear it is civic support. $100 to $2500 is probably grass root support and the upper end of money to family & friend support. This extreme money battle is unethical in appearance. Why do we continue to allow such a seedy environment to exist especially since a dark cloud on our judiciary has been cast. What a sad moment in history.

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