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Campaign cash, Trump World, and a Swift sale

Plus, fencer sues PSU, coach over alleged abuse.


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
April 14, 2022
Political currency, outsize influence, company cars, subway shooting, UPenn clash, PSU case, and neighborhood know-how. It's Thursday.
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There's just over a month before the May primary and the nine GOP candidates for governor have raised more than $13 million combined. And while the race isn't setting spending records yet, it could be soon.

The money is from a patchwork of sources and donors — some large, some small, some the candidate themself — and is being used to ferry the hopefuls around the state, pay salaries, launch TV ads, print mailers, and more.

Here's the cash each has raised overall based on their most recent campaign finance reports:
  • Dave White: $5.1 million
  • Jake Corman: $2.8 million
  • Bill McSwain: $2.4 million
  • Doug Mastriano: $1.4 million
  • Lou Barletta: $1.3 million
  • Charlie Gerow: $468,574
  • Nche Zama: $263,052
  • Joe Gale: $99,095
  • Melissa Hart: $37,060
Spotlight PA has an illuminating look at their top donors — real-estate developers, business owners, hedge fund managers, and others.

THE CONTEXT: The Republican candidate who emerges victorious in the primary will face state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, a Democrat who is unopposed with a large and rapidly expanding war chest.

Shapiro began the year with $13.4 million on hand and raised another $4.5 million in the first three months of 2022. (Spotlight PA will publish a separate look at his donors.)

With the stakes high and the funding streams targeted post-primary, the general election governor's race could shatter records.

If you aren't registered to vote in the May 17 primary, register here before May 2; if you don't know if you're registered, check here. Mail ballots can be requested here by May 10 but the sooner the better.
Invest in tough, nonpartisan reporting that cuts through the noise, gets to the truth, and empowers voters. Support Spotlight PA now »

"We are so proud to become the first union Starbucks cafe in Pennsylvania. We are happy to carry the torch in Pittsburgh."

A statement from organizers of a successful union drive at a Pittsburgh Starbucks, part of a widespread union push by employees of the chain

» BROKEN RULES: Join us Wednesday, April 20 at 6 p.m. EST via Zoom for a free discussion on Pa.'s medical release law for state prisoners, who the law impacts, and the strain it places on people in prison, their families, and taxpayers. Register here and submit questions to events@spotlightpa.org.
A scene from a hike in Jefferson County, courtesy of Don H. Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
RACE FORCE: Former President Donald Trump's outsize influence on Pennsylvania's Republican primary for governor was clear on Tuesday when he issued an anti-endorsement of former federal prosecutor Bill McSwain and resurrected state Sen. Jake Corman's candidacy with a single phone call. Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort also hosted a fundraiser for another hopeful, former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, that night. 

LEASE TERMS: A bill that passed the state House on Tuesday would ban Pennsylvania lawmakers from leasing state vehicles for their own personal use, a practice the bill's sponsor says puts the state at heightened risk of liability. The bill is bound for the state Senate where, according to the Capital-Star, 11 senators, including three Republicans, were using state vehicles for state-sponsored travel as of 2021.

ATTACK ROUTE: NYC mass shooting suspect Frank R. James was arrested in Manhattan on Wednesday for a rush-hour subway attack that left 10 people shot and 13 more injured a day earlier. Authorities say James stopped in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia on his way to New York, renting a U-Haul van in Philadelphia on March 25. Police said the van's key was found at the scene of Tuesday's mass shooting.

DELAYED DEGREE: The University of Pennsylvania will stop withholding a master’s degree from Mackenzie Fierceton, the former student and Rhodes Scholar whose recent New Yorker profile heaped scorn on the Ivy League school, Billy Penn reports. The outlet says the release of Fierceton's degree comes on the heels of increased campus activism on her behalf. The university denies any wrongdoing.

PSU LAWSUIT: Alleging years of verbal, physical, and psychological abuse by her renowned coach, a former Penn State All-American fencer with Olympic aspirations is suing the coach, Wes Glon, and the university. Centre Daily Times reports Zara Moss' lawsuit claims the Nittany Lions fencing team was a "hotbed for sexual assault and gender discrimination" that the school didn't do enough to stop.
FATAL FIRE: The exact cause of a Potter County fire that killed five teenagers and injured two adults on Monday is unknown. State Police said the fire started in the home's basement, possibly in a wood stove, but the extent of the damage made it impossible to know more, per The Evening Tribune.

OFF LIMITS: Too much human activity at popular rock climbing sites in Fayette County has impacted the habitat of rare, threatened, or endangered species that call the area home, Pittsburgh Magazine reports. In response, the Game Commission has banned rock climbing at those locations.

ZONING ODE: A planned food hall in Pittsburgh's Lawrenceville neighborhood is moving forward after being delayed for years by a single resident taking issue with four related parking spots, or the lack thereof, via TribLIVE.

SWIFT SALE: Taylor Swift's childhood home in Wyomissing has sold for $999,100 weeks after going on the market, Philly Voice reports. Swift lived in the home as a teenager before the family relocated to Nashville.

GRID GUESS: Back of Your Hand, an online game that shows you an aerial map of your neighborhood and asks you to correctly place a randomly chosen street name, was a profoundly humbling experience for me.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

*This week's theme: Spring cleaning
Yesterday's answer: Immaculate

Congrats to our daily winners: Bonnie R., Craig W., Don H., Patricia M., Kimberly S., Judith D., Deb N., Jude M., John A., Elaine C., Dianne K., Pat B., George S., Vicki U., James B., Diane P., Chris H., Elizabeth W., Susan D., Kyle C., David W., Mary Jo J., Bill S., Kim C., and Becky C.
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Spotlight PA is an independent, non-partisan newsroom powered by The Philadelphia Inquirer in partnership with PennLive/The Patriot-News, TribLIVE/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and WITF Public Media.

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