Watchdog, Pennsylvania Resident Call on Allegheny County Officials to Investigate Secret Political Campaign Run by Local Businessman
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 8, 2019
Contact: Bryan Dewan, firstname.lastname@example.org, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, and Audrey S. Bensy, a resident of O’Hara Township, Pennsylvania, called on the Board of Elections and the District Attorney’s Office in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania to investigate Robert J. Kania, Jr., Gary Britcher, Kania Enterprises, Inc. and Americans Against Socialism for multiple serious violations of Pennsylvania’s Campaign Finance Reporting Law.
CfA Counsel Alice Huling said, “Activist Gary Britcher and local businessman Robert Kania illegally operated a secret campaign to influence an election outcome, duping voters and running afoul of Pennsylvania’s campaign finance laws in the process. Allegheny County officials should immediately open an investigation and hold them accountable for any wrongdoing.”
On November 5, 2018, Pittsburgh radio station WESA (90.5 FM) reported that a political committee named Americans Against Socialism was waging a write-in campaign to elect Dom Costa to represent the 21st District in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. However, WESA reported that there was no political committee by that name registered with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. In a December 20, 2018 follow-up, WESA reported that as of December 18, 2018, Americans Against Socialism still had not registered as a political committee with the Secretary of State and had not filed the required post-election report.
Furthermore, WESA interviewed Aspinwall Republican Gary Britcher who admitted that he and Mr. Kania had established Americans Against Socialism to oppose the election of Democratic candidate Sara Innamorato. WESA also reported that the website for Americans Against Socialism had been registered in mid-October by Kania Enterprises, Inc. and that a PayPal page soliciting contributions to Americans Against Socialism directed contributors to make their contributions to email@example.com.
Mr. Kania is the president of Kania Enterprises, Inc., a local consulting firm, and a member of the board of directors of the Port Authority of Allegheny County. Since 2011, Mr. Kania has served as Treasurer of the Susan B. Anthony List, an anti-choice advocacy organization.
According to Pennsylvania law, any political committee that receives $250 or more in contributions must register with the Secretary of the Commonwealth within twenty days of receiving that amount. Failing to properly register a political committee is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to one year in prison. Additionally, failing to file an account of election expenses is also a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $5,000 and imprisonment for up to two years. Finally, any corporate officer who consents to the use of corporate funds to make a prohibited corporate contribution or expenditure is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and up to two years in prison.
Ms. Huling continued, “Campaign finance laws exist to protect the integrity of the democratic 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. If Americans Against Socialism violated any campaign finance laws, they need to be held accountable.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.