Westmoreland Judicial Race One of Pa.'s Costliest; the Race to Fill a Vacancy on Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Is among the Most Expensive Judicial Campaigns in Pennsylvania, According a Tribune-Review Analysis of Campaign Finance Reports. [Derived Headline]

By Cholodofsky, Rich | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, May 11, 2017 | Go to article overview

Westmoreland Judicial Race One of Pa.'s Costliest; the Race to Fill a Vacancy on Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Is among the Most Expensive Judicial Campaigns in Pennsylvania, According a Tribune-Review Analysis of Campaign Finance Reports. [Derived Headline]


Cholodofsky, Rich, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


The race to fill a vacancy on Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court is among the most expensive judicial campaigns in Pennsylvania, according a Tribune-Review analysis of campaign finance reports.

Records show that campaigns for Anthony Bompiani, Jim Silvis and Lisa Monzo through May 1 combined to spend more than $268,000 -- an amount that likely will climb before Tuesday's primary election.

Through the latest round of campaign finance reporting, only the Common Pleas Court races in Philadelphia, York and Dauphin counties are more costly. In Philadelphia, 27 candidates spent more than $991,000. Nine candidates in York spent $372,000 for three vacancies, and in Dauphin County, seven candidates seeking three court openings spent $363,000.

In Allegheny County, where two Common Pleas Court seats are up for grabs, six candidates spent $101,000.

Candidates seeking judicial openings on the Court of Common Pleas throughout Pennsylvania spent more than $2.7 million since Jan. 1, according to finance reports.

"In general, we would like to see money out of the election process for judge," said Maida Milone, president and chief executive officer of Pennsylvanians for Modern Courts, a Philadelphia advocacy group that has lobbied for a change in how state judges are selected.

Candidates were required to file financial reports with the Department of State in Harrisburg by May 5. The state can impose fines of $20 for each day reports are outstanding. Financial reports from about two-thirds of the 89 judicial candidates on ballots this month are on file.

Milone's organization has proposed a merit selection system for judges that would exempt them from the elections process and in turn eliminate the need for judicial candidates to solicit money for campaigns.

Reports filed in Harrisburg revealed that judicial candidates, in addition to raising money from donors, rely heavily on their own money to fund election efforts.

Milone said the growing cost of judicial elections is evidence that court vacancies should be filled by appointments based on merit rather than traditional balloting, which has become increasingly expensive.

"When you choose a judge, you're looking for someone with experience and legal expertise. We're not looking for people who can raise money. You don't want to inhibit people who are highly qualified but can't afford to back their own campaign," Milone said.

Westmoreland Common Pleas judges are paid $178,868 this year.

Campaign spending this year among the three candidates in the county so far has not approached the $1. …

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Westmoreland Judicial Race One of Pa.'s Costliest; the Race to Fill a Vacancy on Westmoreland County Common Pleas Court Is among the Most Expensive Judicial Campaigns in Pennsylvania, According a Tribune-Review Analysis of Campaign Finance Reports. [Derived Headline]
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