Only two of the seventeen candidates for Judge in Luzerne County filed campaign finance reports for cycle 1, which ended March 30, 2009. Those candidates were Michael Pendolphi and Jennifer Rogers. Campaign financing may not be the most interesting subject out there, but Buzz and I have some time on our hands before the start of the WNBA season.
Pennsylvania campaign finance law requires the filing of a cycle 1 report only for candidates seeking state office (in this election, that only applies to candidates for the Commonwealth, Superior, or Supreme Courts) or candidate committees that have "expended money for the purpose of influencing the election" statewide candidates.
Neither Rogers nor Pendolphi's committees expended any money on behalf of a statewide candidate, so they did not have to file a report. In this new era of full disclosure, we must assume they filed their reports to demonstrate this new openness. Then again, perhaps they misinterpreted the law and believed they were obligated to file.
In any case, here's what we found.
Pendolphi spent $104.94 on photography, $77.36 on balloons, and $302.00 on printing of labels and pins, for a total of $484.30. All of Pendolphi's contributions were from Pendolphi himself. Pendolphi's ending balance was $0.00
Rogers' campaign report was a bit more complicated. She raised $2425 from seventeen contributions ranging from $100 to $250. She raised $1752 from unitemized contributions of $50.00 or less, and $7600 from contributions of $250.01 or more.
The $1000 plus club had four members. Ruth and Clifford Melberger gave $1000, Bettie Ann Morgan gave $1000, Ronald and Madge Rogers gave $1000, and Attorney Vincent Cappellini gave $2500.
Rogers spent $3907.78 on political consulting, postage, and printing. She had unpaid debts in the amount of $3461.42. These bills were for printing and advertising. This left Rogers with an ending balance of $4227.80, after subtracting the unpaid invoices.
So as we stood at the beginning of April neither of these candidates had raised nearly as much as the $37,000 which fellow judicial candidate Gene Sperazza gave back in lawyer contributions.
We don't expect an monetarily equal playing field out there. We fully expect some of the candidates to raise and spend less than $20,000 or even $10,000. We also fully expect some candidates to raise and spend well over $100,000.
At this point, the usual suspects for the $100,000 plus club are Sperazza, Judge Joseph Musto, Thomas O'Connor, William Amesbury, C. J. Bufalino, Richard Hughes, and John Terrana.
Stay tuned tomorrow for our judicial predictions. Buzz has been crunching the numbers on the UNIVAC 3000 for the past few days.