Last week, after the Pennsylvania state supreme court invalidated the state’s GOP-friendly congressional map, top Republicans in the state legislature asked the state supreme court to throw out the decision. One of the Democratic justices, they argued, should have recused himself from the case because of comments he made in 2015 opposing gerrymandering.
But one of these Republicans, Senate President Pro Tempore Joseph Scarnati, did not disclose a more serious conflict of interest: Scarnati donated $25,000 to a different state supreme court justice, Republican Sallie Mundy, in April 2017. The donation came through his political action committee.
Supreme court justices in Pennsylvania are elected in partisan campaigns, and last year Mundy received donations from Scarnati as well as two Republican members of the US Congress from Pennsylvania. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick donated $1,000 to Mundy’s campaign on July 27, 2017, after the gerrymandering case was filed in state court. On November 1, 2017, after voting rights groups had asked the state supreme court to take the case, GOP Rep. Charlie Dent donated $1,000 to Mundy. Both Fitzpatrick’s and Dent’s congressional districts were at stake in the case. Both congressman also gave through their political action committees.The day after Dent’s donation, Mundy filed a letter disclosing that a law firm involved in the case had donated to her campaign. But she never disclosed the donations from Scarnati, Fitzpatrick, or Dent. Mundy won reelection for a 10-year term less than a week later.