In former Judge Mark Ciavarella's retention campaign in 2005, Ciavarella received 21,069 "yes" votes for retention and $188,719.00 in the form of a loan repayment from the retention committee. Ciavarella had been elected to a ten year term on the bench in 1995. Apparently in 1995, Ciavarella loaned large sums of money to his campaign. 2005 was payback time.
Ciavarella's retention committee raised $303,420.00 through a golf tournament, a cocktail party, and direct solicitation. He spent every dollar of that, but the majority of that money was $188,719.00 in loan repayments to himself. A lot of the money was spent on the usual items --- advertising, political consultants, and the expenses related to his fund raising events.
There were a few thing of note which made Buzz and me stand up and take notice. Particularly we thought the $6,000 donation to the Luzerne County Democratic Committee and the $2500 donation to Friends of Skrepenak & Vonderheid was interesting. Another interesting tidbit was the $15,000 contribution from the Makowski and Pisano Political Committee, which was subsequently returned.
To us the most striking aspect the Ciavarella retention report, besides the loan repayments, is the fact that the committee received $64,005.00 after Ciavarella's successful retention bid. A number of these contributions came in in the last few days of 2005.
Judicial candidates are prohibited from political activity, including fund raising, except for the calendar year in which they are seeking election or retention.
We wonder if all of those who gave money after the election realized that their money was going directly into Ciavarella's pocket in the form of loan repayments.
Stay tuned. The campaign finance reports are a wealth of information. Next we will answer the question, who is behind PSPA and why did they give Ciavarella's retention committee $10,000 on December 29, 2005?
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