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RODERICK RANDOM: Some Top O’Malley Donors Also Give To Cummings

September 8, 2018

Lackawanna County Commissioner Patrick O’Malley packed them in for an election campaign fundraiser a few weeks ago at the Waldorf Park Social Club.

We won’t officially know how much money the Democratic commissioner raised until probably January, but county Democratic Party Chairman Chris Patrick estimated a crowd of at least 500.

O’Malley started the year with $173,980, which means he might have close to one-quarter of a million dollars to spend come the primary election campaign next year.

“Pat’s got a pile of money,” Patrick said.

Plus, if you look at his Facebook page, O’Malley gets around. He’s really everywhere. He hits a lot of local public events and always posts about them with praise for the sponsoring group. O’Malley still has few peers around here as a retail campaigner.

See, commissioner, not everything we report about you is bad news, but that’s all for him in this column.

Instead, we’ll turn the spotlight on his sidekick in the nonmajority majority, Republican Commissioner Laureen Cummings.

Back in February 2017, we promised a closer look at her campaign finances in a future column.

Roderick hasn’t focused as much on her money because she hasn’t raised anywhere as much as O’Malley, though she’ll need to do better if Republicans like Scranton City Councilman Wayne Evans or Gene Talerico, a former county first assistant district attorney,get serious about running. Through June 4, Cummings had a $29,262 campaign kitty balance. Patrick, for one, thinks Talerico still has his eyes on a second run for district attorney in 2021.

Today, Cummings gets a fuller treatment, starting with her congressional campaign.

Her conservative views clearly come through either at commissioners meetings or on her Facebook page, but we never really noticed her ties before to the conservative movement’s most conservative conservatives.

Namely, the Koch brothers.

Yep, back in 2011, the year before she ran for the present 17th Congressional District seat against Democrat Matt Cartwright, she received an $1,800 honorarium from Americans for Prosperity, according to her 2012 congressional financial disclosure form.

Americans for Prosperity is the nonprofit issue advocacy group whose chief backers are Charles and David Koch, the billionaire businessmen and arch-right wingers who funded the rise of tea party Republicans in 2009. Cummings served as a key organizer of the local tea party back then, even taking time to warn against President Barack Obama’s push for health care reform in a September 2009 rally, the day after Obama announced the push.

“Why would a president do this to the American people?” Cummings asked at a Courthouse Square rally attended by 500 tea partiers.

Cartwright clobbered her in the 2012 election, but she stayed active and ran for commissioner.

Since then, for the most part, she has relied on a core of supporters who give her small amounts of money. She has received larger donations from others at times, but she has more small ones.

We’ve included here the donors who gave to her commissioner campaigns and added contributions to her congressional campaign, if there were any. The list does not include people who gave only to her congressional campaign.

The regular donors, who all donated to Cummings at least three times, are Michael A. Catanzaro, of Carbondale Twp., a total of $860 in 15 contributions; Maria Gillette, who as of 2015 was a laborer at the Lockheed-Martin plant in Archbald, $1,385 over 11 contributions; James O’Meara, $631 over eight contributions but none since 2015; Old Forge School Director Frank Scavo, $500 over four contributions; Marie Schumacher, the well-known local Scranton government watchdog, $900 over four contributions; Robert Harrison, an East Stroudsburg retiree, $700 over four contributions; Charles Brewer, of Jermyn, $350 over three contributions; attorney Bernard J. Brown, of Carbondale, $345 over four contributions; Ralph Chase Jr., of Old Forge, $275 over three contributions; Thomas J. Kenney, of South Abington Twp., $480 over four contributions; Lynn Kokinda, of Moosic, $660 over four contributions; Scranton-based attorney Dominic J. Mastri III, $1,100 over three contributions; former state Rep. Frank A. Serafini, of Moosic, $850 in three contributions; attorney Robert P. Shiels, $905 in six contributions; Mary Lynne Sotak, of Blakely, $450 in three contributions; Marijayne Wallis, $275 in three contributions; and Edrene Wright, of Factoryville, $249 in four contributions.

Keith Eckel, a Newton Twp. farm owner and businessman, donated a total of $1,100 in two contributions. John Cerra, Cummings’ solicitor, gave $3,085 in six contributions, four of them in-kind contributions for picking up various campaign expenses. County chief of staff Don Frederickson gave a total of $650 in three contributions.

Cummings also got $3,500 in two contributions from the Great American Pennsylvania Fund, a political action committee set up a few years ago by former state Republican Party chairman Rob Gleason. The fund’s money comes almost exclusively from Josephine Templeton, whose late husband, John, was an heir of the famed investment company, now part of Franklin Templeton Investments.

Perhaps more interesting are the donations to Cummings campaign from some of O’Malley’s top 20 donors. They include attorney John Brazil Jr., the county solicitor and O’Malley’s close friend and confidante, $450; Donna Barbetti, co-owner and manager of a Dunmore accounting firm with her husband Michael, $350; attorney Matthew Carmody, part of the Joyce, Carmody & Moran of Pittston law firm, one of the Joyce family of companies who make up O’Malley’s top donor group, $550; attorney Joseph Joyce III, a member of the same firm and acting county tax claim bureau director, $550; attorney John J. Minora, a longtime friend of O’Malley’s and Brazil’s, $500; attorney Larry Moran Jr., also a member of the Joyce law firm, $250; his wife, Eliza, $750; his father, attorney Larry Moran Sr., the county chief public defender, $100; Louis Norella III, senior vice president at the county engineering firm, Greenman-Pederson Inc., $500; Scranton-based attorney James Tierney, $1,200; and John Palumbo, owner and president of the company that designed the county’s new administration building at the former Globe Store, $1,475.

Cummings also received $1,000 from the state Republican Party; $800 from Andrew M. Muller Jr., chairman and chief executive officer of the Reading-Blue Mountain & Northern Railroad, Port Clinton; engineer Gene Peters, $275; downtown Scranton developer Art Russo, $550; Talerico, $310; and Dr. Edward J. Zaloga, whose company has the county prison medical care contract, $450.

BORYS KRAWCZENIUK, The Times-Tribune politics reporter, writes Random Notes.

RANDOM NOTES

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