Failed candidate for Borough Council (Ward 6) and chair of the Conshohocken Democrats, Kevin Dwyer, made a comment on Facebook recently that we found very interesting.
An admin of the Facebook page for the Conshohocken Democrats made a post praising the Colonial School Board. That received some negative comments from a few people (Democrats mostly, including two elected Democrats on the school board), who Dwyer felt the need to point out didn’t live in Conshohocken.
That got us thinking. We wondered how Dwyer felt about campaign contributions from outside Conshohocken. If he is so curious as why someone living in a neighboring community would comment on a Facebook page, what would he think about thousands of dollars being donated from outside the one-square mile of the Borough of Conshohocken? Has he reviewed the campaign finance forms for the party he now leads?
We reviewed the forms and did the math (and you can download our spreadsheet here).
Between 2011 and 2017, $74,787.74 was donated to the Conshohocken Democratic Committee based on our reading of campaign finance forms we obtained from Montgomery County Voter Services.
Of the $74,787.74, a total of $58,495 was listed as donations that came from an address outside the Borough of Conshohocken.
$16,292.74 was listed as donations that came from a Borough of Conshohocken address. However, we want to note that $8,000 of the $16,292.75 came from employees of Remington & Vernick, an engineering company that the Borough of Conshohocken and the Conshohocken Sewer Authority have employed during this time period. It has an office in Conshohocken.
Employees of Remington & Vernick and its PAC also donated an additional $4,500 from addresses outside the Borough of Conshohocken. That is $12,500 all together.
So who else is donating? Lets take a look.
Attorneys with Borough Contracts
Eastburn & Gray, the law firm that the Borough of Conshohocken uses for Borough Council’s solicitor, also likes to donate. The long-serving solicitor from Eastburn & Gray, Michael Savona, donated $2,000 out of his own pocket. A political action committee, the Bucks Montco Good Government PAC, which just happens to have the same address as Eastburn & Gray in Doylestown, has donated $7,500 since 2011. So that is a total of $9,500.
Note, that Savona is no longer the solicitor. He has plead guilty to lying to the FBI in connection with a pay-to-pay scheme in Bucks County. He is awaiting sentencing. However, the Borough still employs an attorney from the law firm.
Another attorney employed by the Borough of Conshohocken (for the Zoning Hearing Board and until recently the Civil Service Commission) and the Conshohocken Sewer Authority, Michael Clarke, has donated $9,500.
In May of 2017, Conshohocken’s Borough Council voted to create a new zoning district, SP-4, that would allow for the construction of a hotel and large office building on the corner and adjacent areas of West Elm Street and Fayette Street.
During this process, which goes back several years, unions have filled the room with members to speak and show support for the project. Once the project was approved, they seemed to have found their checkbooks. In an addendum to the campaign finance form due on October 27, 2017, seven unions donated collectively $6,250.00.
Note that there were six other donations from unions prior to this. But they were smaller and never all at once.
This isn’t all the money. Candidates can accept donations directly or through a “Friends of” committee. For example, Kevin Dwyer accepted $5,000 from a union during his campaign for Borough Council.
Basically the Conshohocken Democratic Committee is funded by special interests and those with Borough-contracts from outside the Borough of Conshohocken.
Will Kevin Dwyer propose to the Conshohocken Democratic Committee that it no longer accept donations from outside of the Borough?
To be fair, we will also look at the Republicans. But they basically are irrelevant since they only control one seat (and at most two in recent years) on Borough Council.
Let us know what you think in the comments.