April 17, 2019 In The News, Themis Project

New Filings Show Phone Campaign In Anti-Socialist Effort May Cause More Headaches For Organizer

By: Lucy Perkins & Chris Potter, 90.5 WESA, April 17, 2019

Americans Against Socialism treasurer Robert Kania filed campaign finance documents on Tuesday, outlining the group’s efforts to oppose state Rep. Sara Innamorato’s campaign in the 21st district five months ago. The move follows a campaign-finance complaint against the political committee.

The new filing, which came days after Kania was removed from his post on the board of the Port Authority of Allegheny County, document that the group’s activities included not just the campaign signs that have drawn scrutiny, but telemarketing efforts as well.

The filing by Americans Against Socialism comes months after 90.5 WESA reported questions about its financial activities last year. The group now reports only modest activity, including $3,245.20 spent on handbills and signs. But it also reports $2,062.82 on “telemarketing” by Mudshare, a New Jersey-based mobile-messaging firm that specializes in electronic communications like texts, robocalls and emails.

Campaign for Accountability […] filed a campaign-finance complaint against Kania last week. That prompted calls for Kania’s removal from the Port Authority board. Gov. Tom Wolf announced Kania’s interim replacement hours later.

The Campaign now wants Kania to be removed as treasurer of the Susan B. Anthony List, an advocacy group that opposes abortion rights. The List is a nonprofit, and previous tax filings identify Kania as its treasurer. Federal Elections Commission reports show he also serves as treasurer for one of its political committees. That fund spent $755,797 on national political activism last year, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

“Mr. Kania has proved that he is unfit to oversee the finances of a national advocacy group,” said a statement from Campaign for Accountability, whose mission includes “working to hold the anti-choice movement accountable” by seeking to “expose misconduct and malfeasance.”

Neither Kania’s attorney nor the Susan B. Anthony List responded to requests for comment Wednesday morning. But Alice Huling, an attorney with Campaign for Accountability, said Kania’s role as treasurer in other causes bears scrutiny.

“If he’s doing it in as secretive manner in Pennsylvania,” Huling said, “who’s to say he’s not doing it in a secretive manner somewhere else, or just not following the rules in other ways?”

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