In an interesting attempt to “have their cake and eat it too,” Lehigh County Republican Commissioner Dean Browning and Party Chairman Bill Platt, Jr., conveniently forgot to mention their orchestrated effort to fund Republican Commissioner candidates while providing erroneous information about County Executive Don Cunningham and the State Democratic Party.
In fact, their effort to support two Commissioner candidates currently outstrips the current support of the State Democratic Committee’s in-kind contributions to Lehigh County Commissioner candidates -- which to date is a total of $34,861.23.
In addition, there are multiple discrepancies between what the Republican Party and its Victory Fund report as expenditures and the reporting of its two chosen candidates: commissioner candidates Glenn Eckhart and Tom Creighton.
Here are the facts:
§ Republicans, funded in large part by Commissioner Dean Browning, his family members and co-workers at New World Aviation, along with Congressman Charlie Dent, have raised $54, 495 and have reported spending more than $36,000 on Lehigh County Commissioner races this year.
§ The support has come from two groups, The Lehigh County Republican Committee and the Victory PAC, which have delivered all the advertising to date for Commissioner candidates Glenn Eckhart and Tom Creighton.
§ Eckhart and Creighton don’t report receiving as much from either Republican group as the groups report spending on Eckhart and Creighton. And, let’s remember, these are so-called fiscal conservatives who want to manage our money.
Here are the numbers (from their filings):
A. Lehigh County Republican Committee - Summary
§ Total Raised- $30,465.30
§ Total Expenditures- $18,043.91
§ Cash on Hand- $12,421.39
$8,500- Charlie Dent
$200- Lawrence Hilliard
$500- Samuel Sexton
$2,000- Charles Snelling
$5,000- Roland Sigal
$500- John Lovett
$5,000- Robert Hammel
$7,500- PA Future Fund *(see mission statement below)
B. Victory PAC
§ Total Contributions: $24,030.77
§ Total Expenditures: $18,696.37
§ Cash on Hand: $5,334.40
§ Dean Browning, chief financial officer of New World Aviation, is chairman of the Victory PAC
§ Peter J Csongradi, controller of New World Aviation, is treasurer of the Victory PAC
$1,000- Dent for Congress
$5,000-Charles Browning, relative of Dean Browning
$5,000- Randolph Croschwartz, president of New World Aviation
$2,500- Peter Csongradi, controller of New World Aviation
$250-Friends of Community Colleges
$250- William Young
$5,000- PA Future Fund *(see mission statement below)
$500- Sam Saxton
$1,000- William Grube
$1,000- John Lovett
$1,000- Robert Johnson
C. Dean Browning’s PAC and Personal Contributions
Dean Browning’s campaign committee has contributed $9,310 to four of the Republican commissioner candidates in in-kind services, most of which no one says what it is on their reports.
Browning gave an equal – and specific -- $2,327.50 to Eckhart, Creighton, Bob Smith and Mike Welsh.
Unfortunately, for Board Chairman Republican Percy Dougherty, Browning only skipped him with his benevolence
And here is the Problem:
§ Creative accounting has helped these groups hide activity, particularly regarding direct mail.
§ When you compare a low average for mail costs (design, consulting, production) with the amount of postage paid, over 40,000 pieces of mail are unaccounted for.
§ Negative mail pieces have been paid by the Lehigh County Republican party, but this information is not disclosed on those reports.
§ Creighton and Eckhart report receiving some in-kind support from the Victory PAC but don’t disclose what it is for.
Despite all of this, Commissioner Browning and Republican Party Chairman Bill Platt, Jr, decided to launch a media campaign regarding County Executive Don Cunningham’s contribution to the State Democratic Committee, which has been regularly misrepresented as a “$70,000 contribution” to Commissioner candidates.
While we see nothing wrong with Republicans helping Republicans and Democrats helping Democrats, we do think the Republican hypocrisy and lack of accurate reporting is evidence of a shady and sloppy approach that doesn’t belie the fiscal responsibility mantra they would like us to believe.
And, in the end, we have seen the uncovering of Commissioner Dean Browning as the spearhead and leader of a GOP coordinated campaign targeting Lehigh County Commissioner Districts 1 and 5.
There is no doubt that he is spending more time lately running the day to day fundraising and financial operations of this coordinated campaign than he is watching the books of New World Aviation. One has to wonder why?
* Mission Statement of the PA Future Fund from its website: In 2009, the Pennsylvania Future Fund is dedicated to the following objectives:
Elect a Supreme court Justice to ensure a fair redistricting plan for Pennsylvania. The court is presently divided with three Republicans and three Democrats; so a fourth Republican will tip the balance.
Invest funds in local and county organizations to rebuild the Republican Party at the grassroots level. We have a plan to improve the use of political technology that we wish to make available statewide.
Recruiting quality pro-growth candidates for Congress, State Senate and State House for the 2010 cycle.
Asked for comment, Dean Browning tells me he'll have a more complete answer today, but wanted you to know "they are mixing apples and oranges and then making erroneous comparisons."
"The money from Lehigh County Victory PAC spent for County Commissioner candidates went to 5 different candidates not just Eckhart and Creighton.
"Not all the money spent by Lehigh County Victory PAC was for the commissioner candidates. Some was for the PAC itself and a significant portion was for GOTV efforts to benefit all Republicans in Lehigh County.
"I can say that any money spent by the PAC before the Oct. 19 cutoff that to the direct benefit of a candidate was reported to them and included on their campaign finance report."