Who swings the biggest political money sticks in Pennsylvania?

    I’ve long been interested in who makes big political contributions, and why.

    A new study of Pennsylvania political donors finds that the biggest givers in the current two-year cycle are the owner of a trucking company who bankrolled his wife’s political career and a Philadelphia real estate investor who wants to support gay causes. He came up with $1 million for the super PAC supporting President Obama’s re-election.

    Also in the mix were the school-choice millionaires who backed Philadelphia State Sen. Anthony Williams’ run for governor in 2010.

    The analysis comes from Public Source, a Western Pennsylvania non-profit that gets funding where it can to produce original investigative reporting.

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    I called the author of this study, Bill Heltzel, because I figured he went through hell trying to analyze Pennsylvania campaign finance records. I’ve spent time among those reports myself, and while you can look for a particular donor or politician, the records don’t exist in the kind of clean, searchable databases that permit real analysis, the way federal records do.

    Heltzel confirmed it was very tedious.

    I mention this in part because I wrote earlier this year about a noble effort by Montgomery County State Rep. Tim Briggs to get a law passed requiring electronic filing of campaign finance records in Pennsylvania, which would be a big help. His bill failed to pass in this session, and I hope he can revive the effort.

    Meanwhile check out the Public Source analysis here.






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