Woodruff Campaign Inflated Fundraising by a Quarter Million Dollars
Supreme Court candidate Dwayne Woodruff only had about 6 percent of the cash on hand his campaign originally claimed, according to revised fundraising reports. His campaign declined to offer an explanation for the $265,000 decrease between his initial report and the amended version.
Woodruff, a Judge and former Pittsburgh Steeler, eliminated or reduced contributions and loans from himself and his wife. Contributions from the Rooney family, owners of the Steelers, also comprised a significant portion of the since-removed donations.
The Cycle 1 campaign finance report covers January 1st to March 27th. On April 4 Woodruff’s campaign claimed to have raised $311,150 in contributions and to have $282,203 cash on hand. The campaign filed an amended version of the same report on May 3rd showing just $49,900 raised and $17,253 on hand – a difference of more than a quarter million dollars in each category.
Woodruff’s campaign declined to comment for this story.
In Woodruff’s original Cycle 1 report, Woodruff’s wife, Joy Maxberry Woodruff, donated $25,000 to the campaign on January 27th, and Woodruff himself donated $75,000 on January 30th. In the amended report, only one donation from Woodruff or his family was recorded, a $10,000 donation from Woodruff on January 13th.
Woodruff’s report also showed larger support from Steelers owner Art Rooney and his wife Greta. The original report showed a $25,000 donation from Art Rooney on March 27th, the final day of the reporting period, and a $5,000 donation from Greta Rooney on February 22nd. The amended report showed only a $5,000 donation from Art Rooney on February 22nd and no donations from Greta. Attempts to contact Rooney were not successful.
Woodruff currently serves on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas. He played cornerback for the Steelers from 1979 to 1990.
The reports also had discrepancies with campaign loans. The original filing showed that Woodruff loaned his campaign $75,000 and his wife, Joy Maxberry Woodruff, loaned the campaign $25,000 on January 30th. In the amended report, there was only one loan from Woodruff to his campaign of $10,000 on January 13th.
PoliticsPA spoke with half a dozen fundraising consultants on both sides of the aisle. The Democratic fundraisers requested anonymity so they could candidly discuss their party’s nominee. They said the change could be the result of a bookkeeping error, cold feet by several donors, or strategic deception. There is no indication of any impropriety, they all agreed.
“I have never heard of filing an amended report that took away donations and loans, or changing donations from $75,000 to $5,000,” Chris Nicholas, a Republican consultant, told PoliticsPA.
There are many reasons that could have caused the campaign to have to file an amended report, including misclassifying loans as donations or vice-versa. The money could have been pledged to the campaign and recorded as a donation before the check came through. This would account for the need for an amended report, but the subsequent reports have not seen the money come in.
Some fundraising consultants said that the amended report shows that the Woodruff campaign was trying to show strength: a way to deter other candidates considering a primary bid. It could also be a play for earned media and additional donors. Woodruff was unopposed in the Democratic primary.
Multiple sources PoliticsPA spoke with about the reports said that the reports raised questions about the bookkeeping of the campaign.
Woodruff’s Cycle 2 report, which cover March 28th through May 1st, and his Cycle 3 report, which covers May 2nd through June 5th, do not include any of the donations or loans that were removed in the amended Cycle 1 report.
In his Cycle 3 filing, Woodruff’s campaign reported raising $42,815 and having $21,041 cash on hand.
After the primary, state parties often take over the fundraising and day to day running of judicial campaigns, making these issues less of a priority after the primary. In all Pennsylvania judicial races, candidates are not permitted to personally solicit contributions, so there is a degree of separation from the process not experienced by legislative or executive candidates.
Woodruff is running in the general election against Republican candidate Justice Sallie Mundy. Mundy is currently serving on the Supreme Court after an appointment by Governor Tom Wolf. In the latest report, Mundy reported raising $56,100 and having $250,666 cash on hand.