A Pennsylvania Republican candidate for governor is asking a local prosecutor to investigate rival Doug Mastriano’s campaign finances.
State Senate leader Jake Corman’s campaign alleged Wednesday that Mastriano, a fellow GOP state senator from Franklin County, “has clearly and flagrantly ignored” campaign finance law. In a letter to Franklin County District Attorney Matthew Fogal, a lawyer for Corman’s campaign suggested Mastriano may have committed perjury and requested an investigation.
“[I]t appears that Senator Mastriano ... may have committed flagrant and willful violations” of state law by “submitting an obviously deficient and incomplete campaign finance report that failed to disclose hundreds of pages of transactions,” Corman campaign attorney Zachary M. Wallen wrote.
Mastriano’s campaign didn’t respond to a request for comment. A staunch ally of former President Donald Trump who is widely seen as a front-runner for the GOP nomination, Mastriano previously said he has complied with state law and “any ‘speculation’ to the contrary is entirely false.”
Fogal said he hadn’t received the letter and had no comment.
The call for a probe comes a day after Mastriano filed an amended financial report showing he raised $1 million in 2021 — three times as much as he initially disclosed. The new filing said Mastriano spent $215,000 last year — 15 times as much as he first reported.
Mastriano filed the updated report hours after The Inquirer reported on his campaign’s omission of basic expenses for things like registering a website domain, email services, and fund-raising. Mastriano’s initial report was received by the Pennsylvania Department of State almost a week after the Jan. 31 deadline.
Corman’s campaign said Mastriano had provided no “readily apparent explanation as to how 239 pages of contributions and expenditures could have previously been unaccounted for” — including $110,000 in contributions from a single donor. That money came from James Martin, owner of the Chambersburg-based Martin’s Famous Potato Rolls and Bread.
Under Pennsylvania’s election code, candidates for state office must sign affidavits saying that, to the best of their knowledge, their campaign committee hasn’t violated state law. “Any willfully false, fraudulent or misleading statement or entry made by any candidate or treasurer in any statement or report under oath as required by this article, shall constitute the crime of perjury,” the law says.
Corman’s campaign, citing that provision of the statute, said in the letter that the district attorney should review the matter. “[G]iven the apparent flagrancy of the violations in question — where experienced political operatives, with years of experience filing campaign finance reports, filed a campaign finance report that failed to disclose, without explanation, hundreds of thousands of dollars of contributions and expenditures, and then only amended their report when this apparent deception was uncovered by media inquiries — an investigation is merited,” Wallen wrote.
Proper disclosure helps inform voters about candidates for public office and deter corruption, the letter said, citing court precedent. Corman’s campaign said it also shared the letter with state Attorney General Josh Shapiro and acting Secretary of State Leigh M. Chapman.
The letter noted that Shapiro, the only major Democrat running for governor, may have a conflict of interest.
In addition to the campaign finance matter, Mastriano is also facing scrutiny in Washington. The congressional committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol subpoenaed Mastriano last week, demanding he turn over documents and testify about his involvement in efforts to overturn Joe Biden’s 2020 victory.
Mastriano and Corman are among a dozen Republican candidates running in the May 17 primary election. Corman raised $3 million last year and began 2022 with $2.7 million in the bank. Mastriano had almost $1.3 million to start the year.
“Doug Mastriano has clearly and flagrantly ignored the law that every other candidate in the race has followed,” Corman said in a statement. “Unfortunately, this isn’t surprising coming from the leading Republican defender of [Philadelphia District Attorney] Larry Krasner. Doug is not above the law.”
This isn’t the first clash between Corman and Mastriano.
In August, Corman, the Senate president pro tempore, accused Mastriano of mishandling a review of the 2020 election. Corman stripped Mastriano of his committee chairmanship, reassigned his Capitol staff, and took control of the inquiry.
See the full letter from Corman’s campaign below.