The Democratic Candidate for Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Sees Support from Wealthy Donors and “Dark Money” Groups

The Democratic Candidate for Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court Sees Support from Wealthy Donors and “Dark Money” Groups

The upcoming Pennsylvania state Supreme Court election has attracted significant attention due to the financial support received by the Democratic candidate, Judge Daniel McCaffery. Campaign finance records reveal that McCaffery has quietly garnered substantial funds from prominent donors, including wealthy philanthropists, financial investors, and so-called “dark money” nonprofit organizations. This article delves into the sources of these contributions, analyzing the implications of such support on the upcoming election.

Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness, a recently registered political action committee (PAC), has invested over $3 million in support of Judge Daniel McCaffery’s campaign, according to state campaign finance records. These funds have been utilized for advertisements favoring McCaffery and criticizing his Republican opponent, Judge Carolyn Carluccio. Notably, McCaffery’s campaign ad points out that “billionaires and corporations” aim to influence the Supreme Court seat. Surprisingly, the PAC’s financial contributors include an array of billionaire donors, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest and concerns regarding impartiality.

The financial backers of Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness include influential individuals and organizations with significant financial clout. For instance, the Spielberg Family Living Trust, linked to renowned Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg, contributed $12,500 to the PAC in mid-August, according to campaign finance records. Steven Spielberg’s estimated net worth of $4.8 billion, as reported by Forbes, further highlights the prolific influence of such donors.

Moreover, the PAC has received substantial funds from prominent finance industry executives. Susan and Stephen Mandel, the heads of investment firm Lone Pine Capital, donated $200,000 to the PAC last month. With a combined net worth of approximately $2.5 billion, their contribution emphasizes the deep pockets supporting McCaffery’s campaign. Additionally, Mark Heising, the founder of private equity firm Medley Partners, donated $60,000 to the PAC in September. This financial backing from esteemed finance professionals raises concerns about the potential influence of the financial sector on judicial proceedings.

In addition to wealthy donors, Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness has benefitted significantly from “dark money” nonprofit organizations. These groups, which do not disclose their donors’ identities, have played a pivotal role in financing the PAC’s activities. PA Alliance Action, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit group, donated $700,000 earlier this year, while The North Fund, another 501(c)(4) organization, contributed $600,000 to the PAC. The affiliation of these nonprofits with left-leaning organizations, such as consulting juggernaut Arabella Advisors, raises concerns about the potential for undue influence in the election.

The significant financial support received by McCaffery’s campaign brings to light several potential consequences for Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court. If McCaffery emerges victorious, the Democrats would gain an additional seat, bolstering their majority on the court. Conversely, a win for Carluccio would curtail the Republicans’ representation to just one seat. Such concentration of power within a specific party may raise concerns about fair and impartial decision-making within the court.

Furthermore, the involvement of wealth and “dark money” in judicial campaigns raises questions about potential conflicts of interest and the independence of the judicial system. Critics argue that sizable contributions from billionaires and corporations could undermine the perception of justice being blind, raising doubts about the motivations and influences guiding judicial decisions.

The Pennsylvania state Supreme Court election has become a battleground for wealthy donors and “dark money” nonprofit organizations, with Judge Daniel McCaffery benefiting significantly from their support. The vast amounts of money injected into the campaign raise concerns about the potential for bias and loss of independence within the judiciary. As voters head to the polls, the financial factors driving this election deserve careful scrutiny to ensure the integrity and fairness of Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court.


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