nbc10 investigators

U.S. Senate Race in Pa. Already Attracting Big Bucks from Across the Country

A venture capitalist in Chicago, a video game executive from San Francisco and other big money political donors are already giving to super PACs running ads in Pennsylvania's closely watched open U.S. Senate race.

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A Texas-based political action committee called Honor Pennsylvania has become an early dominant force in the open U.S. Senate race in Pennsylvania, where experts believe as much as $100 million could be spent by spring.

The money from a Texas super PAC, which describes a dark money third-party group supporting a political candidate, is not unusual in the race that will help determine what political party controls Congress for the next two years.

In fact, three of the largest spenders in the Senate race are out-of-state PACs. The groups are not affiliated with any candidates or political parties, but they can spend unlimited amounts of cash.

More than two dozen people are running for the Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican who is resigning at the end of his term next January.

Honor Pennsylvania, which has already spent $7.5 million, is running television advertisements in support of Republican candidate Dave McCormick. He is a western Pennsylvania native who recently resigned as CEO of Connecticut-based hedge fund Bridgewater Associates to run.

While super PACs don't have to fully disclose their donor lists, the contributions made to the entities can sometimes be traced back to specific donors. NBC10 Investigators found one donor through another PAC that he used to donate to Honor Pennsylvania.

That donor, Bobby Kotick, who is the CEO of video gaming company Activision, gave $100,000 to Honor Pennsylvania. A spokesman for Kotick said the business executive gave to the super PAC in support of McCormick, who is a close friend.

The spokesman for Kotick added, "Mr. Kotick contributes to Democratic and Republican candidates."

Neither Honor Pennsylvania nor the other two super PACs spending already in the race, American Leadership Action, which has spent $1.2 million in support of Republican candidate Mehmet Oz, and Jobs for Our Future , which has spent nearly $500,000 in support of another Republican candidate Jeff Bartos, would talk about their advertising spending.

American Leadership Action is based in Arlington, Virginia. Jobs for Our Future is based in Beverly, Massachusetts.

John Lapinski, the director of elections for NBC News, told the NBC10 Investigators that it's not surprising that big political donors from outside Pennsylvania would pour money into the state's top races in such an important congressional election.

"I definitely think so, and I think that’s on the Democrat and Republican side," Lapinski said.

He added that as much as $100 million could be spent on the U.S. Senate race, and that before the May 17 primary. The general election will be held in November and pit the winners of the Democratic and Republican primaries against each other.

Republican Sen. Pat Toomey is retiring after two terms in office, putting the seat in Pennsylvania up for grabs this year.

Pennsylvania's two open races for a U.S. Senate seat and the governor's office in 2022 puts the state in the spotlight once again as the midterm elections will decide control of Congress.
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