The Lead

Corman asks for investigation of GOP gov rival Mastriano’s campaign finances

By: - February 23, 2022 3:28 pm

Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, speaks with attendees on the Capitol steps of a rally for gun rights on September 29, 2020. (Capital-Star photo by Stephen Caruso)

The top Republican in the Pennsylvania state Senate has filed a complaint against rival gubernatorial candidate and controversial Pennsylvania state Sen. Doug Mastriano, R-Franklin, for filing an incomplete campaign finance report.

Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, R-Centre, sent a letter to the Franklin County District Attorney Wednesday asking for the office to look into how and why Mastriano’s campaign raised nearly three times the funds than it had previously reported in an amended form filed to the Department of State this week.

“The amended campaign finance report raises more questions than answers, given the enormity of the additional transactions,” the letter says. “What is clear, however, is that submitting a false campaign finance report ‘constitute[s] the crime of perjury’ under Pennsylvania law.”

Mastriano, who had hinted at a run for months but officially announced in January, filed a report on Feb. 7 that showed $363,000 in donations to his political action committee in 2021. The report, already filed almost a week behind schedule, also showed just more than $14,000 in spending on an online fundraising service.

The limited expenses raised eyebrows among Republican insiders, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Monday, because Mastriano spent much of 2021 barnstorming the state for events and fundraisers with grassroots groups.

On Tuesday, Mastriano released an amended report, now posted to the Department of State’s website, showing he raised just over $1 million and spent $215,000.

“We are the only grassroots campaign in the governor’s race,” Mastriano said in a statement announcing the haul. “I am thankful to have the support of thousands of Pennsylvanians from all corners of our great state.”

The 2022 candidates for Pa. governor are raising big money for a big race

However, in his letter Wednesday, Corman’s campaign raised concerns about the sudden increase in fundraising and spending.

In one instance, the campaign highlighted $110,000 in previously unreported donations from Chambersburg resident James Martin, owner of Martin’s Potato Rolls.

“This is exactly the type of offense that should be investigated if the Commonwealth’s rules governing election fairness and transparency are to have any real application to the Commonwealth’s elections,” the letter reads.

Mastriano, the Franklin County DA, and the Department of State did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidates have already raised more than $26 million for the coming race. Democratic candidate Josh Shapiro, the state’s attorney general, raised more than $13 million, more than the entire GOP field combined by roughly $400,000.

Sitting Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, is term-limited, leaving an open seat that has attracted a number of names. Corman and Mastriano are among the biggest.

In the Senate, the two have feuded in recent months over the fate of a legislative investigation into the 2020 election. Mastriano has also been critical of Corman and Harrisburg at-large for not moving forward on top conservative priorities, such as more aggressive abortion bans.

Mastriano, in his first full term, rose to prominence in 2020 for opposing Wolf’s COVID-19 mitigation measures, before spreading baseless claims of voter fraud in the aftermath President Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election.

He was also present, but says he did not enter, the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, when Trump’s supporters stormed the building to block Congress from certifying incoming President Joe Biden’s victory.

Corman, meanwhile, is the son of a state senator and was first elected in 1998. He has run on his record in government and challenging Wolf’s proposed tax increases and COVID-19 measures.

Early polling has shown Mastriano as one of the top candidates, although many voters are still undecided.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.