The Wawa vs. Sheetz war gets political: Stores donate to dueling Pa. governor campaigns | Clout
Wawa gave $12,500 to Republican Scott Wagner. Sheetz gave $10,000 to Democrat Tom Wolf.
Even the legendary rivalry between Wawa and Sheetz can't escape the gravitational pull of politics.
Campaign records released this week show that Philadelphia's favorite convenience store recently donated $10,000 to Scott Wagner, the Republican businessman running against Gov. Wolf. Wawa's political action committee donated an additional $2,500 to Wagner's gubernatorial campaign earlier this year.
Meanwhile, the PAC for Sheetz, whose fans are based in central and Western Pennsylvania, cut a $10,000 check to Wolf.
Is there a proxy war underway in the governor's race between Wawa and Sheetz? Good God, that could ignite a civil war in Pennsylvania.
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In Philly, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 7-1, liberal voters won't like Wawa's donations. In the western part of the state, which has trended red in recent years, conservative voters will be unhappy with Sheetz's.
Wolf and Wagner seem all too aware of how politically precarious this issue is: When Clout asked the two men which side they're on, both dodged.
Andrew Romeo, a spokesperson for Wagner, said he "loves all the convenience stores in Pennsylvania and will stop at whichever one is closest when he wants a coffee or an iced tea."
Wolf's spokesperson, Beth Melena, said that "though he is a fan of both Wawa and Sheetz, Gov. Wolf is a Rutter's guy," referring to a hometown favorite store.
Wawa and Sheetz played it safe, too.
Nick Ruffner, Sheetz's public relations manager, said the company has given to Democrats and Republicans who "promote policies that strengthen the economy of the states we serve."
Wawa spokesperson Lori Bruce said the company has "a great relationship with Gov. Wolf," adding, "We also made an equal contribution within the past month to the Democratic Governors Association as part of its recent event in support of his reelection campaign."
It's not the same, Wawa. It's not the same. And besides, this isn't the first time Wawa donated to Wolf's opponent: When Wolf first ran for governor in 2014, the store contributed to his Republican rival, then-Gov. Tom Corbett.
That's not the only duplicitous thing Clout discovered. Despite his professed love for Rutter's, Wolf's team hasn't spent a dime at that store this year, according to his most recent filings. His campaign has, however, paid $145 to Wawa.
Hey, who can blame them? It's America's greatest convenience store.
How not to deal with campaign ‘trackers’: A lesson
When it comes to political "trackers" — operatives who tail and videotape candidates in hopes of capturing embarrassing blunders — it's best to handle with care.
After all, you're on camera.
Somebody forgot that when a tracker for the liberal group American Bridge filmed a Republican Jewish Coalition forum for congressional candidates, at Fox Rothschild's law offices in Blue Bell.
The candidates, Republicans Bryan Leib, Dan David, and Pearl Kim, were fielding questions when a man who identified himself as a doctor at "inner-city hospitals" said: "The people that are going to change the black community, I believe, are the black women. Forget the men. They're too stupid."
At that, Fox Rothschild lawyer Bill Wanger, the host, noticed the tracker and ushered him out of the room, accusing him of trespassing and telling him he couldn't leave until police responded.
Wanger told Clout the tracker was a "hooligan" who "snuck into my building." And he raised security concerns, noting the event happened "the night before the Jewish high holiday of Yom Kippur."
Andrew Bates at American Bridge said the tracker went to the police and showed video.
Wanger, a Republican committee person in Montgomery County, said he tried to file charges against the tracker last Friday. Instead, he learned he was charged with a summary offense of harassment.
"This is disgusting," Wanger said. "This is a case of turning the victim, which is me, around. … He is a trespasser. This is all political."
An opaque group jumps into Pa.’s General Assembly races
Political insiders are whispering about a mysterious new group in Pennsylvania's General Assembly races.
This week, the pro-Democratic organization PA Fund for Change began airing TV advertising in a state Senate campaign in Allegheny County, according to its website. It says it is targeting nine additional races, most of them in the Philadelphia suburbs, where Democrats hope to gain seats in the legislature.
PA Fund for Change's treasurer, according to state records, is settlement planner George Audi. That's notable because Audi was also treasurer of Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform, a pro-Democratic super PAC that spent more than $2.5 million on TV ads in the 2015 state Supreme Court elections.
Will PA Fund for Change fork over seven figures to help Democrats in state legislative races, too? Will it raise money from trial lawyers and unions, like Pennsylvanians for Judicial Reform did?
Asked about its donors, spending plans, and targeting decisions, the PAC revealed little. "All PA Fund for Change financial information will be reported as required by applicable law," said an email from firstname.lastname@example.org.
As if that weren't opaque enough, no name was attached. It came into Clout's inbox as "Executive Staff."
Staff writer Jonathan Lai contributed to this column.
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