Deep-pocket parents, the new essential campaign tool

 Kevin Strouse is a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Congressional District. (Photo via KevinStrouse.com)

Kevin Strouse is a candidate for the Democratic nomination in the 8th Congressional District. (Photo via KevinStrouse.com)

Campaign contributions to a suburban Philadelphia congressional candidate are raising some eyebrows.

A Philadelphia Inquirer report detailed the non-traditional fundraising involving candidates’ parents that some say is an effort to get around campaign contribution limits.

The report details how congressional candidate Kevin Strouse’s parents appear to have traded donations with the parents of at least four Democratic candidates in other states. Strouse’s parents, gave the maximum allowed to their son as well as contributing to eight other Democratic candidates in California, Illinois, Florida and other states. The contributions total nearly $50,000 dollars.

Meanwhile the parents of at least half of those out-of-state candidates donated to Strouse’s campaign, often in identical amounts.

“What’s happening here appears to be a deal of some sort between the parents of one candidate and the parents of another candidate,” said Chris Borick is a political science professor at Muhlenberg College.

Borick said campaign finance laws are designed to keep a single big donor from dominating.

“The deal that seems to be struck between the parents of the candidates is to extend the amount that the parents can actually give,” he said. “So in terms of the spirit of the law, it seems to be a little bit strained. In terms of the legality of the donations, I think they’re probably safe.”

A representative for Kevin Strouse declined to comment, saying the campaign never discusses fundraising.

Strouse is running in the Democratic primary for the chance to challenge Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks County) in the fall.

Strouse’s opponent in the primary, Shaughnessy Naughton has criticized the contributions. Naughton called on Strouse to tell the public if the candidate and his campaign were aware of the contributions.

“At best this is a bizarre scheme,” Naughton said. “At worst, it was a coordinated effort to circumvent campaign finance limits.”

If it was a coordinated effort to violate campaign finance limits, she said Strouse should return the money.

When asked if her own parents made similar donations, Naughton laughed and said her own mother was a cleaning lady.

“She would not possibly have the ability to do anything like that,” she said.

Muhlenberg College’s Chris Borick said he has never heard of this sort of approach to campaign contributions.

“Looking at campaign finance for years, the amount of strategies and ways around any donations have been quite creative. This seems to be a new approach.”

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