Money talks — and big money talks loud — in Pennsylvania. Our state is one of only 12 with no limits on individual campaign contributions. Since companies can create Political Action Committees to funnel money to politicians, there's effectively no limit on corporate contributions, either.
All of the gubernatorial candidates have taken big checks, but there are differences — in how many, how much and from what sources.
Joe Hoeffel | Contributions (2009-now): $801,557.34; average donation: $472; contributions of $10,000 or more: 8
President Obama used small donations to win his seat. Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Hoeffel is also using small donations — but less effectively. He's received $12,770 in donations of less than $50 as of the most recent financial disclosure. Compare that to state Sen. Anthony Williams, who received $0 in donations of less than $50 in the same period, but raised more than four times as much money as Hoeffel. Though Hoeffel says he's the only true liberal in the race, some of his biggest donors also invest in Republicans. Horsham 611 LP, which has historically donated to conservatives, gave Hoeffel $15,000. Nan Sweeney, who gave Attorney General Tom Corbett $12,000, invested $10,000 in Hoeffel's campaign. If elected, keep an eye on how Hoeffel grapples with transportation, infrastructure and pension issues: Radnor law firm Barroway Topaz Kessler Meltzer & Check bestowed Hoeffel with $11,000; their clients include Pennsylvania pensions and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission.
Anthony Williams | Contributions (2009-now): $4.2 million; average donation: $37,271; contributions of $10,000 or more: 22
State Sen. Anthony Williams suddenly becomes as mum as a socially anxious mouse when asked if he supports contribution limits: "No, I'm not for that." No wonder: Of the $4.2 million he's raised, at least $1.5 million came from PACs funded by a trio of managing directors at a single Bala Cynwyd investment firm. A few other big donors include Paul T. Jones, the billionaire CEO of hedge fund Tudor Investment Corp., who gave Williams $10,000, and the pro-casino Local 98 IBEW Committee on Political Education, which gave Williams' Senate campaign $105,000. Lest you think his Senate and gubernatorial campaigns are separate, Williams transferred $100,000 of his $184,855 in Senate contributions into his gubernatorial coffer.
Tom Corbett | Contributions (2009-now): $6 million; average donation: $1,065; contributions of $10,000 or more: 134
Oil, natural gas and coal companies have found a bestie in Attorney General Tom Corbett. The president of Rosebud Mining Co. gave him $57,058; and the CEO of Bradford Energy Co. gave him $52,607. Perhaps it has something to do with his stance on the Marcellus Shale: He's opposed to a severance tax and believes the Department of Environmental Protection should "understand that business is not the adversary."
Dan Onorato | Contributions (2009-now): $8.4 million; average donation: $1,222; contributions of $10,000 or more: 105
There's no doubt about it: Allegheny County Executive Onorato is far ahead of his Democratic competitors in fundraising — suggesting that the powers that be have picked their champion. He's received more individual donations over $10,000 than all candidates but Corbett. Though Onorato's stance on gas drilling doesn't differ much from his competitors, he is the only Democrat to receive substantial donations from that industry.
Jack Wagner | Contributions (2009-now): $737,841; average donation: $1,070; contributions $10,000 or more or more: 16
Auditor General Jack Wagner isn't far from Hoeffel in fundraising, but he has nearly twice as many $10,000-plus donations as Hoeffel, and half as many mid-size ones. The former Pittsburgh councilman clearly has a base of support at home, and several top donors — beer baron Frank Fuhrer, e.g. — are from Pittsburgh. Oddly, some of Wagner's top benefactors — like cigar manufacturer John Middleton — have donated more, lots more, to Corbett's campaign.
Sam Rohrer | Contributions (2009-now): $495,436; average donation: $428; contributions $10,000 or more: 6
Sam Rohrer isn’t swimming in money — but Edward Cone, head of CF Capital, who single-handedly donated about a seventh of his entire war chest, doesn’t seem to mind, and neither do several Christian churches and businesses who like his religious conservatism. Rohrer wins the prize for smallest average donation.