Monday, April 13, 2009

I'll Take What's Behind Door Number 3

On the old Let's Make a Deal game show, contestants would have a choice of keeping what they already won or trading it for what was behind the curtain or door. They didn't know in advance what was behind the door or curtain. In the world of political finance, we have a similar process. A large donor doesn't want his or her name showing up on a candidate's finance report, so he or she creates their own political action committee (a PAC) and then the PAC gives money to the candidate. Such is the case with PSPA.

We found large campaign donations from PSPA on both former Judge Michael Conahan and former Judge Mark Ciavarella's campaign finance reports, so Buzz did what any computer savvy person would do --- he googled it. We came up with a number of answers, unfortunately, none of them was right. We found Pennsylvania Society of Physicians Assistants, Pennsylvania Society of Public Accountants, Professional Ski Patrol Associations, and a number of others. We couldn't figure out why any of them would want to give large sums of money to judicial retention campaigns.

Then we found out who the real PSPA was and is. PSPA (Political Support for Political Action) is a political action committee financed by Attorney Joseph Quinn. On November 3, 2003 PSPA gave Conahan $10,000. In 2005, PSPA gave two donations to Ciavarella prior to the election in the amounts of $1250 and $5000. PSPA also gave Ciavarella $10,000 a month and a half after his successful retention bid on December 29, 2005.

PSPA is still active this judicial season. Quinn's group has given $2500 to Attorney Joe Sklarosky, $1000 to Attorney William Amesbury, $1000 to Attorney Richard Hughes, and $5000 to Attorney Eugene Sperazza.

The earliest record we found on PSPA is 2003. All contributions to PSPA are from Attorney Joe Quinn. Since 2003, Quinn has given PSPA $110,000.00 in contributions, in amounts ranging from $5000 to $20,000.

In addition to the Luzerne County Judicial candidates who received money in 2009, here's the list of who got the money from 2003 to the present. To make it a little more comprehensible, I've broken the contributions down into categories.

Luzerne County (non judicial)

Atttorney David Lupas for District Attorney, $3200; Commissioners Greg Skrepenak and Todd Vonderheid, $6000; Dr. Jack Consalvo for Coroner, $300; Luzerne County Commissioners Greg Skrepenak and Maryann Petrilla, $7000; Sheriff Barry Stankus, $330; District Attorney Jackie Carroll Musto, $4000; and Prothonotary Jill Moran, $4000.

Local Mayors

Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tom Leighton, $750; West Pittston Mayor Bill Goldsworthy, $750; and Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty, $1500.

State Offices, including Judges and Justices

Auditor General Jack Wagner, $1000; Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffrey, $3000; Supreme Court Justice Thomas Saylor, $4000; Superior Court Judge Correale Stevens, $5000; Superior Court Judge Jack Pinella, $2000; Supreme Court Justice Debra Todd, $3000; Governor Ed Rendell, $10,000; and Attorney General Tom Corbett, $2000.

Lackawanna County Judicial and non-Judicial

Commissioners Corcoran and Castellani, $500; County Commissioners Mike Washo and Corey O'Brien, $4000; District Attorney Andy Jarbola, $900; County Commissioners A.J. Munchak and Bob Cordaro, $1000; Judge Tom Munley, $5000; and Judge Carmen Minora, $5000.

Luzerne County Magistrates

Attorney Joe Carmody, $500; Martin Kane, $400; and Bill Amesbury, $500.

Luzerne County Judges

Judge Michael Toole, $5000; Judge Conahan, $10,000; and Judge Ciavarella, $5000.

State House and Senate

Representative John Yudichak, $2250; Representative Eddie Day Pashinski $250; Senator Bob Mellow, $2500; Attorney Jim Haggerty for State Senate, $2500; Dr. Brian O'Donnell for State Senate, $3000; Representative Mike Carroll, $2000; Representative Phyllis Mundy, $4500; and Representative Todd Eachus, $1500.

PACs and other committees

Justice for All PAC, $10,000; Democratic State Senate Campaign Committee, $1300; Luzerne County District Justice Association, $200; Luzerne County Democratic Committee, $1000; and LAWPAC, $10000.

Other Judges

Judge John Mott, Bradford County, $500.


Anonymous said...

Great work. Keep digging! Is all PSPA money from Quinn? And why the big contributions to the judges? Friendship or influence or verdicts?

Norton The Blogger said...

PSPA is a perpetual committee, in that it exists from year to year, and not just for a campaign cycle. The only contributions we have found, so far, are from Joe Quinn. But, we will double check.

Anonymous said...

Don't pick on Joe Quinn., poor guy. He only wants what's his. You're just jealous. He should know what makes a good judge. Let him decide who should win. In fact skip the election and let him decide. While you're at it, let Walter Griffith do everything else the county requires.

Anonymous said...

WOW!!! It really makes you think. And I thought golfing was an expensive hobby.

Anonymous said...

PSPA gave at least $6,500 to Mayor Doherty of Scranton according to Lackawanna County records, you have him down for only $1,500 and I didn't make it through all the records yet.

Norton The Blogger said...

Anonymous 10:06pm, Give us the dates and $ numbers, we'll check versus what we have. The Univac 3000 is perfect, but don't tell Buzz.