New Power Players: Big Money Support for Pennsylvania’s State Supreme Court Justice Race

In the race for Pennsylvania’s next state Supreme Court justice, a Democrat candidate has been benefiting from substantial financial support from a range of influential individuals and organizations. Shockingly, this support mostly stems from “dark money” groups that do not disclose the identities of their donors. Additionally, well-known figures such as Hollywood mogul Steven Spielberg and wealthy philanthropists have backed the candidate behind the scenes, raising questions about transparency and the influence of money in politics.

The Power of Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness

Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness, a political action committee that officially registered with the state in April, has become a major player in the election. As of Tuesday’s Election Day, the PAC has spent over $3 million. Advertising expenditures, analyzed by advertisement tracking firm AdImpact, reveal that this money has been used to support Democratic Judge Daniel McCaffery while opposing his Republican opponent, Judge Carolyn Carluccio. Notably, McCaffery’s campaign ad highlights the alleged attempts by “billionaires and corporations” to buy a Supreme Court seat, yet ironically, the Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness PAC is predominantly funded by wealthy billionaire donors.

Billionaires and Financial Investors

While Hollywood producer Steven Spielberg may not be directly involved in politics, his affiliated group, the Spielberg Family Living Trust, contributed $12,500 to the Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness PAC in mid-August. This donation adds an intriguing layer of celebrity influence to the race. With an estimated net worth of $4.8 billion, Spielberg’s involvement in political matters raises questions about the motivations behind his donation. Unfortunately, a representative for Spielberg declined to comment on this matter.

In addition to Spielberg, the PAC has also received significant contributions from prominent finance executives. Stephen Mandel, the head of Lone Pine Capital, and his wife Susan donated $200,000 to the PAC in the last month. Mandel, boasting an estimated net worth of $2.5 billion, did not provide any statement regarding his contribution. Another major donor is Mark Heising, the founder of private equity firm Medley Partners, who donated $60,000 in September. Heising has not responded to requests for comment.

It seems that billionaire philanthropists also have a vested interest in the outcome of the Supreme Court justice race in Pennsylvania. Lynn Schusterman, a notable philanthropist with a net worth of $4.5 billion, contributed $200,000 to the Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness PAC last month. Given her background, one may wonder about the potential influence of wealthy individuals in shaping judicial decisions. Despite her immense wealth, Schusterman declined to comment on her reasons for donating to the PAC.

The Impact of “Dark Money” Groups

Apart from high-profile donors, so-called “dark money” groups that operate without disclosing their donors have also played a crucial role in funding the PAC supporting McCaffery’s campaign. The PA Alliance Action, a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization, contributed $700,000 earlier this year. Chaired by Chuck Hadley, a former venture partner at Cardinal Partners, this organization’s involvement calls attention to the influence of undisclosed funds in judicial elections. Similarly, the North Fund, another 501(c)(4) “dark money” group, provided $600,000 in support. This group belongs to a network of left-leaning organizations affiliated with Arabella Advisors, a consulting powerhouse.

The influx of big money support in Pennsylvania’s state Supreme Court justice race raises concerns about the transparency and integrity of the electoral process. The undisclosed contributions from “dark money” groups and the overwhelmingly wealthy donor base of Pennsylvanians for Judicial Fairness not only casts doubt on the fairness of the election but also on the influence that money can have over the state’s court system. It is essential to continue scrutinizing the role of money in politics and the potential consequences it may have on the impartiality of the judiciary.


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