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October 2019

Big Spending, Little Accountability

A year-long investigation by The Caucus and Spotlight PA that found Pennsylvania lawmakers, operating under some of the weakest campaign finance laws in the country, obscured nearly $3.5 million in campaign spending from 2016 through 2018.

The most powerful lawmaker in the Pa. Senate, Joe Scarnati, dined at the St. Peter Stiftskulinarium restaurant in Austria in September 2016 and charged $246 to his campaign account. State law requires campaign money to be used for “influencing the outcome of an election,” but what qualifies is largely open to interpretation.
Andre Schönherr / St. Peter Stiftskulinarium

This series was a winner of the John V. R. Bull Freedom of Information Award from the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association Foundation, and a finalist for a national 2019 IRE Award as well as the 2020 Toner Prize for Excellence in Local Political Reporting.