Running for statewide elected office in Pennsylvania is as expensive as it is exhausting. Would-be candidates commonly seek money pledges from major backers before jumping into a race.
State Sen. Doug Mastriano is doing that for the 2022 Republican primary for governor. He’s waiting on a financial sign. From God.
The Franklin County senator and his wife, Rebecca “Rebbie” Mastriano, spoke last week at Time Ministries Church in Bedford County.
It was a standard event for Mastriano, pushing debunked claims about 2020 voter fraud, complaining about public safety measures to combat the coronavirus pandemic, and repeatedly mocking fellow Republicans for not measuring up.
You know, church talk.
Mastriano and his wife said they are praying about a campaign, according to a recording of the event obtained by Clout. She told the crowd the couple have “a monetary fleece out there,” meaning a prayer “that only God” can answer.
The couple have done this before. They issued a fleece before he entered politics in 2019. God kept them waiting until the day before their deadline, she said.
“Sometimes He does wait until the last minute,” she said.
While they wait, Mastriano showed no hesitation in attacking the primary competition. He mocked former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta of Hazleton, who released a poll this month showing him as the early favorite for the Republican nomination.
“That was a rigged poll,” said Mastriano, offering as proof his own poll showing himself as “the top guy in Pennsylvania.”
Mastriano’s most frequent target was Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Centre County Republican who might make a play for governor. Corman in August pulled Mastriano from his most public platform, a push for a partisan review of the 2020 election results.
“Maybe you should draw a line in the sand with Democrats, not someone in your own party,” Mastriano said of Corman. “You do reap what you sow. I don’t know that he’s going to last very long.”
Corman and Barletta declined to comment. Mastriano did not respond to Clout’s hails.
Pa.’s richest man knocks Johnny Doc
Pennsylvania’s richest man, billionaire Jeff Yass, is back at it with trickle-down economics in campaign contributions.
This time he’s funding a mailer linking state Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin, a Democrat seeking a state Supreme Court seat, with John “Johnny Doc” Dougherty, the electricians union leader on federal trial, accused of bribing Philadelphia City Councilmember Bobby Henon.
The mailer, including a picture of McLaughlin and Dougherty, says she is “bankrolled by a powerful Philadelphia political insider” without naming him. It also touts the Republican nominee in the race, state Commonwealth President Judge Kevin Brobson.
Yass’ money traveled the same circuitous route that he used last year to assist Republicans running for state attorney general and auditor general. He gave the pro-charter school Students First PAC $10.5 million in the last year. That political action committee then gave Commonwealth Choice Fund $2 million this year. And then that PAC sent $1.3 million to Commonwealth Leaders Fund, which paid for the mailer. Yass is a leading donor to all the PACs.
Matt Brouillette, who runs the PAC that sent the mailer, did not respond to requests for comment. The PAC also gave Brobson’s campaign $205,000 in direct donations and $393,765 in in-kind contributions.
“It’s politics, like everything else,” a spokesperson for Local 98 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers said Thursday. The local gave McLaughlin $50,000 in February.
McLaughlin’s camp noted the money came from the union’s members, not Dougherty.
Could make for some awkward courthouse moments should Brobson win. Dougherty’s brother, Kevin Dougherty, has been a Supreme Court justice since 2016.
Parking Authority punts on political policy
The Philadelphia Parking Authority, that last bastion of Republican power in the city, punted Tuesday on a chance to scale back politics in the patronage-laden agency.
City Commissioner Al Schmidt, a Republican, presented his five fellow board members with a proposal to prohibit future employees from holding political office like ward leader or ward committee posts, running campaigns, or hosting fund-raisers.
The other board members stalled after removing Schmidt as chair of the agency’s human resources committee.
Beth Grossman, a Republican who joined the board in August and was elected chair last month, called for the delay because the PPA is negotiating union contracts for some employees.
Schmidt countered that it “doesn’t make any sense to wait” since his proposal would launch after the contracts were completed. Schmidt initially considered a ban on political office for all employees but amended that to apply only to new employees.
About 100 of the agency’s 1,000 employees hold political office. Of that smaller group, a little more than half are Republicans and the rest Democrats. Committee posts are up for election in 2022. An employee in office now and reelected next year could continue working for the PPA under Schmidt’s proposal.
Schmidt said he was trying to “insulate” the PPA so it can evaluate employees “strictly based on how much of an asset they are to the authority as opposed to ever considering how much of an asset they are to the party.”
The board is expected to revisit the issue next month.
“I certainly intend to bring it up at the next public meeting and the one after that and the one after that until we confront this issue,” Schmidt said. “Because it is an issue that hurts the operation of the authority and it hurts the reputation of the authority.”
A 2020 city controller’s audit faulted the PPA for patronage, suggesting jobs are handed out based on “who you know” rather than what is best for the agency and the city.