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Wall Street money pours into GOP Senate primary

Plus, PennDOT blocks public from decrepit bridge details.

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A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA

Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
April 25, 2022
Senate spending, cap-and-trade, bridge findings, scathing report, stop boxes, funding fight, and Pittsburgh's 'Demon House.' It's Monday.
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Huge infusions of Wall Street cash are making the GOP race for U.S. Senator from Pennsylvania one of the most expensive in the country.

CNBC reports the two well-connected frontrunners, David McCormick and Mehmet Oz, have received millions from Wall Street executives via fundraisers and direct contributions to them and their political action committees.

FEC records show nearly 60 leaders at Goldman Sachs have donated to McCormick, while John Mack, the former CEO and chair of Morgan Stanley, gave $600,000 earlier this year to a pro-Oz super PAC. 

Find more details on donations in CNBC's full story.

THE CONTEXT: McCormick and Oz have also collectively spent $18 million of their own fortunes on the contest, further elevating its price tag.

Where is the money going? A sizable share is funding attack ads between the candidates, both of whom are working to distance themselves from their elite backgrounds in favor of Pennsylvania-centric MAGA makeovers.

Both men have been accused of having more centrist leanings than their primary campaigns suggest, and Wall Streeter Mike Novogratz said financial-sector donors like that because "Wall Street is centrist."

In the Democratic race for the pivotal seat, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman maintains a large fundraising lead over his opponents.

The Inquirer has a breakdown of the fundraising picture in that race

The four Democratic candidates will gather for a debate hosted by Spotlight PA and its founding members at 7 p.m. today. Here's how to watch.

A debate between the Republican candidates is slated for tomorrow. (We'll have more details on that event in tomorrow's newsletter.)

Equally important: You have exactly one week left to register to vote in this primary. You can check your registration status here. Mail ballots can be requested here by May 10, but the sooner the better.

The Erie Community Foundation will double every contribution to Spotlight PA today, up to $5,000, in support of our vital investigative and public-service journalism. Make sure we don't miss this opportunity by making a gift now.

"Mark, just checking in as time continues to count down. 11 days to 1/6 and 25 days to inauguration. We gotta get going!"

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry (R., Pa.) in a text to Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about overturning the 2020 election; a Meadows aide testified that Perry endorsed urging supporters to march on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6
» Your guide to the Democratic and GOP candidates for governor

» 5 takeaways from Spotlight PA's Republican gubernatorial debate

» A guide to the overlooked race for Pa. lieutenant governor

» Big donations to GOP guv hopefuls: Who gave and how much?

» Tell Spotlight PA what election coverage matters the most to you

Support Spotlight PA's public-service election and voting coverage now.
Tiptoeing through the tulips at Brown Hill Farms in Tunkhannock, courtesy of @lora_explores. Have a cool pic of your own you'd like to share? Send us your gems, use #PAGems on Instagram, or tag @spotlightpennsylvania.
FEE FINALE? Regulations requiring Pennsylvania power plants to pay for every ton of carbon they release were published on Earth Day last week after a lengthy delay, making them official. The rules are a key part of Gov. Tom Wolf's climate change agenda and were opposed by power plants, the labor unions representing their workers, and the GOP-controlled General Assembly. Capital-Star says additional legal challenges are possible, potentially further delaying enforcement of the rules.

HIDDEN NOTES: Now-secret memos written by bridge inspectors were removed from PennDOT's public database after the collapse of Pittsburgh's Fern Hollow Bridge in January — a span first rated "poor" by inspectors years earlier. The Post-Gazette downloaded the memos for thousands of bridges before the notes were removed and has published them for all to see, saying, "the public has a right to know."

BROKEN SYSTEM: The Philly agency responsible for keeping children safe from abuse is itself guilty of separating families without cause, punishing domestic abuse victims, and perpetuating systemic bias in both race and class, a scathing report detailed by Broke in Philly found. The report, issued by a City Council committee, calls for wholesale changes at the city's Department of Human Services. 

BOX BLOCKS: Another county is poised to scale back mail ballot drop boxes in a pivotal election year. After Lancaster County Republican officials removed the only drop box serving 344,000 voters there, Westmoreland County's GOP commissioners are set to vote on a proposal approving one drop box for the county today, TribLIVE reports. The county had at least six in place in 2020, the possible rollback coming amid a sustained and partisan crackdown on the option.

BALLOT BUCKS: Philadelphia election officials want millions of additional dollars from the city to conduct elections, saying new voting machines and the popularity of mail voting are ballooning their costs. They also say more money is needed to avoid tabulation delays that feed conspiracy theories. But WHYY reports the mayor's office, while publicly committed to adequate funding, doesn't trust their math. 

DAILY BRIEFING: State Education Secretary Noe Ortega will step down this week; the six people killed in a snow-related pileup on I-81 last month have been identified; the sexual assault trial of suspended Somerset County DA Jeffrey Thomas has been delayed until September; and Pennsylvania's bird flu case count is the second highest in the U.S. as outbreaks continue.

IN MEMORIAM: Utah's U.S. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, the longest-serving GOP senator in history, died on Saturday at the age of 88. According to Roll Call, Hatch grew up poor near Pittsburgh. After the family lost its home during the Great Depression, Hatch's father borrowed $100 to buy land in Homestead, where he built a home of lumber that had been salvaged from a fire.

HOUSE TOUR: The oldest building in Northumberland Borough — the former Jerre Wirt Blank Funeral Home — will be auctioned off with all of its contents in May. The Daily Item has a look at the building's centuries-old history: from a competitive cupola to horse skulls buried in the floorboards.

'DEMON HOUSE': Speaking of old houses ... an upcoming Netflix film based on a real-life haunting and exorcism case will shoot in Pittsburgh with director Lee Daniels at the helm, Pittsburgh City Paper reports.

GAME FACE: For most people, bridge is a card game. For the Meadville chapter of the American Contract Bridge League, it's a lot more intense. "Out for blood," is how 100-year-old Lois Lightt described it to the Tribune. 

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: The five senses
Friday's answer: Flamenco

Congrats to our weekly winner: John A. 

Congrats to our daily winners: Bonnie R., Craig W., Becky C., Barbara F., Irene R., Kim C., Jude M., Susan D., Beth T., Wendy A., Ann E., Rumina F., Don H., Michelle T., Elaine C., Mark O., Vicki U., Roseanne M., Jodi R., Diane P., Susan R., Doris T., Nancy S., Al M., John F., Kimberly S., Pat B., George S., David S., Linda F., Bill S., Patricia M., Elizabeth W., Starr B., Bill M., Dianne K., Susan N.-Z., Mark C., David W., Jenn R., Karen W., Sharon P., Theresa T., James B., Karen M., John P., Kyle C., and Richard A.
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