State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

A puff and a lather on the campaign trail

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | May 30, 2014 3:28 PM
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The road to the governor's mansion, this year, has been paved with more than $36 million - more than $31 million spent by the four Democrats in the primary and about $5.4 million spent by the incumbent governor.

On the campaign trail, candidates (and the people who cover them) talk about retail politics all the time - holding events to meet voters, shaking hands, kissing babies - but a look at the two remaining gubernatorial hopefuls' expense reports shows how much actual retail is involved.

Advocates with Common Cause of Pennsylvania say state law is too lax on reporting campaign expenses. Purchases made on a credit card don't have to list the name of the cardholder. And the group says it's too easy for candidates to use campaign funds for personal items.

Expenditure lists can help illuminate the day-to-day workings of a modern statewide political campaign.
There's payroll, cell phone bills, consultant fees, printing costs, and TV ads. But there are also reports for petty cash, pizza, and coffee.

And then there's the odd expenditure that doesn't match anything else.

Like the $900 spent at a cigar shop in York. It was reported in February by Republican Governor Tom Corbett's campaign. A spokesman said the campaign hired someone from Hains Cigar Shop to roll stogies live at the GOP state committee's winter meeting.

Democrat Tom Wolf's campaign reported spending about $166 over the past year and a half on car washes in York.

Wolf's blue Jeep became part of the iconography of his campaign. But a spokesman says the car washes were for a campaign car, not Wolf's personal ride.

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