Complaint alleges violation of campaign finance law in aim to derail election of Democratic Socialist

By: Julian Routh, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 9, 2019

A group behind a last-gasp effort to defeat Democrat Sara Innamorato in last year’s election for a Western Pennsylvania state House seat now faces a challenge of its own.

On Monday, the D.C.-based Campaign for Accountability, a nonprofit accountability watchdog group, called on the Allegheny County Board of Elections and District Attorney’s office to investigate the key players in a group called Americans Against Socialism for allegedly violating campaign finance reporting laws.

In a complaint sent to elections officials and District Attorney Stephen Zappala, the center alleged that multiple violations were committed by local businessman Robert Kania, Republican activist Gary Britcher and Kania Enterprises — which, according to reporting by local NPR affiliate WESA last year, were behind the anti-socialism group that waged a campaign to encourage voters in the 21st House District to write in Democrat Dom Costa’s name in the general election.

The Campaign for Accountability’s counsel, in a statement, asserted that Mr. Kania and Mr. Britcher “illegally operated a secret campaign to influence an election outcome, duping voters and running afoul of Pennsylvania’s campaign finance laws in the process.”

“When groups like Americans Against Socialism try to operate in the shadows and in tandem with corporations, the state can’t ensure everyone is playing by the rules, and the public loses,” counsel Alice Huling said. “If Americans Against Socialism violated any campaign finance laws, they need to be held accountable.”

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