This article first appeared in Broad + Liberty
Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Bob Casey’s recent fundraising quarter showed the Democrat collecting more in contributions from corporate PACs than in checks from Pennsylvania citizens.
Federal Election Commission filings show the Democrat pulled in about $75,000 in corporate PAC money, compared to about $70,000 in donations from Pennsylvanians.
That distribution, and the acceptance of corporate PAC money at all, is certain to be at odds with the stated rhetoric of many members of his own party.
According to a 2022 report from Roll Call, “More than 70 members [of Congress] say they are swearing off such [corporate PAC] contributions, indicating that a trend, almost exclusively among Democrats, that caught on during the 2018 election cycle has persisted. Despite the growth, the move has not led to the enactment of major campaign finance policy or legislative changes.”
It cuts a sharp contrast with the commonwealth’s junior senator, John Fetterman, who pledged to abstain from taking corporate PAC money in his successful 2022 campaign.
A request for comment to the Casey campaign was not returned.
The fundraising haul from January through March showed Casey doing very well with pharmaceutical political action committees. Abbvie, Novartis, Eli Lilly, and drug wholesaler AmerisourceBergen are some of the companies in that category who contributed to the early part of Casey’s re-election efforts.
Although the Republican side of the field is still shaping up, the 2024 Senate contest is certain to be expensive. A report from OpenSecrets.com showed in the 2022 race, Fetterman raised about $75 million and Republican candidate Mehmet Oz raised close to $51 million. The Pennsylvania race was the second most expensive race in the nation that year.
Although Casey may not have sworn off corporate PAC money like Fetterman, he has had occasional sharp criticisms of the influence of corporate money in politics.
For example, in 2014, in reaction to the Supreme Court Citizens United decision, Casey decried the influence of corporate money on politics.
“I am pleased that the Senate voted today to proceed to debate the Democracy for All amendment. The Citizens United ruling significantly increased the power of corporate special interests by giving them the ability to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence elections,” Casey said in a press release. “The ruling has allowed a handful of wealthy individuals and corporations to skew the national debate at the expense of hard working Pennsylvanians. Amendments to the Constitution should never be taken lightly but it is time to address the role of money in politics. This bill will help to level the playing field and put power back in the hands of the American people.”