National Republicans spend big on Brobson; state conservatives spend to back amendments, campaign finance records reveal

By: - May 18, 2021 7:07 pm

A national Republican group spent $260,000 backing the GOP establishment’s state Supreme Court candidate against two primary opponents who, combined, raised just a fraction of this total in campaign dollars.

The Republican State Leadership Committee, which works to elect Republican state legislators, row officers, and judges, spent its dollars either backing Republican Kevin Brobson, or attacking one of his opponents, Patricia McCullough, according to Department of State records.

This spending, known as an independent expenditure, is paid for by an outside group that supports a candidate by running an ad or sending mailers to support that candidate, but is separate from a campaign donation.

Both Brobson and McCullough are currently judges on the state’s Commonwealth Court, one of two appeals courts below the high court.

A third candidate in the GOP nominating race, Philadelphia Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick, was not a target of the RSLC’s ads, according to state campaign finance records.

The ads were produced and placed by ColdSpark, a Pittsburgh-based Republican consulting firm linked to retiring GOP U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey.

This independent ad spending for Brobson is on top of the nearly $662,000 raised by his official campaign committee.

Patrick raised $57,775 for her campaign, according to state records, while McCullough raised nothing as of March 29. A newer report was not yet available on the Department of State website.

Brobson was endorsed by the state Republican Party as well as numerous state business groups. 

However, Patrick barnstormed the state, frequently posting Facebook videos of her travels to county party events, stumping at anti-lockdown rallies, and appearing on conservative talk shows.

In fact, Patrick even appeared on a podcast that has promoted QAnon, a far right conspiracy that claims the world is run by a satanic cabal of pedophiles, including many celebrities, billionaires, and Democrats.

Patrick also was promoted as a speaker at a June conference from the podcast. However, Patrick disowned the conspiracy theory, and said she would not attend the conference. 

Mastriano, Pa. Supreme Court candidate slated to appear at QAnon conference

The independent expenditure filings at the Department of State also reveal that at least three conservative groups spent at least $160,000 on supporting the two ballot measures to restrict Gov. Tom Wolf’s executive powers.

The majority of that spending was done by the Commonwealth Foundation, a conservative think-tank that’s part of the Koch-backed State Policy Network. Americans for Prosperity, a separate conservative advocacy group founded by the Koch brothers, also contributed to that total.

Their spending included TV ads, canvassing, printing costs and billboards, among other expenses.

Spending from Democratic groups to counter this advocacy appears limited, according to City and State PA, a digital news outlet.

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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.