Campaign Finance Complaint Filed Against Group Involved In 2018 State House Race

By: Lucy Perkins & Chris Potter, 90.5 WESA, April 9, 2019

Last fall, mysterious political yard signs popped up in the Pittsburgh area asking voters to “Vote Against Socialism! Write in: Dom Costa” for state representative.

On Monday, a campaign-finance complaint was filed against Americans Against Socialism, the group identified as sponsoring the signs and other forms of outreach.

Costa, a Democrat, lost his 2018 primary challenge to Sara Innamorato, who went on to an easy general-election victory in a district that included city neighborhoods and outlying communities along the Allegheny River. But questions remained about Americans Against Socialism, which to date has not registered with the state or filed state-required financial reports about its contributors or expenditures.

A Washington D.C.-based activist group, Campaign for Accountability, filed a complaint with Allegheny County’s Board of Elections seeking an investigation into the committee. A copy was sent to the office of District Attorney Steve Zappala.

“Everyone who is engaging in the political system should know that there are right ways to do that and wrong ways to do it, and those rules exist for a reason,” said Alice Huling, a lawyer for Campaign for Accountability. State laws that require financial disclosure are intended to make sure the political process “is fair so that everybody can access it in the same way,” she said. “[T]hat’s why it’s just so important when something is not done according to those rules, it’s brought to light.”

The complaint, which cites WESA’s reporting on Americans Against Socialism late last year, asks for an investigation into what it calls “serious violations of the Commonwealth’s campaign finance reporting law.” It also requests an investigation into the group and those who may be connected to it, including businessman Robert Kania.

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