Labor Super PAC funds Kenney TV spot

     (Electronic image via Kenney ad)

    (Electronic image via Kenney ad)

    A Super PAC heavily supported by organized labor has aired the first TV ad of the Philadelphia Mayor’s race, a positive spot supporting Democratic hopeful Jim Kenney.

    You can see the ad, produced by the Philadelphia-based Campaign Group, above.

    Building a Better Pa. emerged last year supporting Democratic Congressional candidate Brendan Boyle, who won a four-way primary in the race to replace U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz in the 13th Congressinal district. Boyle was sworn in in January, representing the district which includes parts of Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia.

    There are no figures available for what Building a Better Pa. raised or spent in 2015. It’s filings show that of the $364,536 it raised in 2014, $237,000 came from the political committee of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98, headed by John Dougherty, one of the most politically-influential labor leaders in Pennsylvania. Virtually all of that money was spent on the Boyle primary campaign.

    When Building a Better Pa. ran ads supporting Boyle last spring, Wayne Miller, president of the Sprinkler Fitters Local 692 issued a statement on behalf of group, saying it’s “an independent coalition of Philadelphia area labor unions and concerned citizens.”

    As an independent expenditure-only committee, Building a Better Pa. can raise and spend as much as it wants in support of a candidate, but can’t coordinate activities with any candidate or his committee.

    City campaign finance laws limit contributions to candidates to $2,900 from individuals and $11,500 from political committees and business partnerships. Since the candidates in this year’s mayor’s race haven’t raised large sums on their own, it was anticipated that independent expenditure groups which have no contribution limits would play a major role in the race.

    Three Bala Cynwyd financial executives have donated a total of $250,000 to an independent expenditure committee called American Cities, which will be supporting State Sen. Anthony Williams in the race.

    Asked for comment, spokeswoman Lauren Hitt said that while the Kenney campaign had nothing to do with the ad, “Jim has a long history of standing up for civil rights even when it wasn’t popular to do so, and the ad accurately reflects that as mayor he wouldn’t be a business as usual politician.

    {gdoc_chart title=”Building A Better PA’s Union Donors” gdoc_id=”1DOeG5FHH98KjhTo61EjgVsJm1f9f497ZuT7ud-aIiGw” source=”Federal Election Commission”} Labor unions and the amounts they gave to Building A Better PA {/gdoc_chart}

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.