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Who is Mark Pinsley, a Democrat running for Pa. auditor general?

by Kate Mays, Paige Willett, and Wynter Muro for Spotlight PA |

Democratic candidate for auditor general Mark Pinsley
Courtesy candidate Facebook page

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Update, April 24: Malcolm Kenyatta wins Democratic primary for Pa. auditor general, will face Republican Tim DeFoor this fall

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania voters will elect an auditor general this November, but Democrats and Republicans first must pick their candidates this spring.

Mark Pinsley is one of two Democrats running for his party’s nomination and will appear on the April 23 primary ballot.

The auditor general monitors how public dollars are spent, to catch fraud and graft if they occur. The office does this by conducting financial audits, and monitoring whether state-funded programs are doing what they’re supposed to.

Learn more about Pinsley below:

Who is Mark Pinsley?


Pinsley graduated from Northeastern University and the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He is a U.S. Army Reserve veteran who has owned and run businesses for three decades.

He served as a commissioner in South Whitehall Township, and unsuccessfully ran for state Senate in 2018 and 2022.

Pinsley is currently Lehigh County controller, a position he won for the first time in 2019. He won reelection last year before announcing his campaign for state office on Dec. 1.

In that role, Pinsley has developed a reputation as a progressive. For example, he pitched moving county money out of Wells Fargo because its political action committee donated to anti-abortion candidates. (In an email, Pinsley said the county released a request for proposals but none of the vendors “had both the necessary insurance coverage and abstained from political donation.” The county is still banking with Wells Fargo, though Pinsley said, “We managed to reduce our fees by approximately $100,000.”)

Pinsley provides other highlights of his tenure as county controller on his campaign website, including an investigation into what he called the “systemic overdiagnosis” of medical child abuse (formerly known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy) in the area.

“My resume and my record are beyond question, and the Republican Party won’t be able to paint me as extreme or unqualified,” Pinsley told the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. “… I am the only candidate who knows the job, has done the job, and can win the job.”

As Pennsylvania’s auditor general, Pinsley says he will “audit for impact,” which he defines as helping citizens, enforcing policy, and eliminating waste, in addition to acting as a financial watchdog.

Pinsley says his top goals as auditor general include:

  • Conducting a “sweeping, comprehensive audit” of the Pennsylvania public education system, which he called “terribly underfunded.”

  • Evaluating county election departments and the support they receive from the state to “ensure Pennsylvania invests in and rigorously defends democracy.”

  • Looking at the effectiveness of the state’s workforce development programs.

  • Finding savings in state health care spending.

Pinsley has said that as auditor general he wants to prevent state money from being spent at companies that support anti-abortion causes, audit wage theft, and study the economic impact of gun violence.

In February, the Morning Call and The Inquirer reported that Pinsley’s campaign had submitted nominating petitions that contained allegedly forged signatures, including those of several elected officials.

In an email to Spotlight PA, Pinsley said no objections had been raised with the Department of State.

“Certain individuals have chosen alternative avenues to voice their concerns, seemingly bypassing the formal process and using the media as their primary source to issue complaints,” he said. “The deviation from formal procedures raises questions regarding the genuine intent behind these actions, leading us to believe their motivations may extend beyond a sincere desire to address the issues. Instead, garnering media attention may be the primary objective.”

His Democratic opponent, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, has accused Pinsley of racism — a claim Pinsley said is without merit.

In a Ring video that circulated on social media, Kenyatta is seen telling a constituent, “There’s the guy Mark Pinsley, who I told you don’t like Black people.”

The video was recorded inside the home of the mother-in-law of one of Kenyatta’s former state House challengers, according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. That candidate, Jon Hankins, was recently removed from the primary ballot following a residency challenge.

In a statement to news outlets, Kenyatta did not explain the basis for the accusation, instead calling the video “dirty political tricks.” Pinsley said the accusation is false and told Lehigh Valley News that it “doesn’t show good temperament.”

Endorsements: VoteVets; Parents' Medical Rights Group.

>>READ MORE: A complete guide to the primary candidates for auditor general

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