Kelly outraises, outspends Pastore in congressional race

Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, who is seeking a seventh term in Congress on Nov. 8, reported more than $1 million in his campaign coffers heading into the last stretch of the election as the resources of his Democratic challenger Dan Pastore dipped below $10,000.

Filings with the Federal Elections Commission were due Oct. 27 for all contributions received through Oct. 19. The pre-election reports are the last comprehensive reports that candidates must file before voters head to the polls on Nov. 8.

The reports show the following:

  • Kelly raised $482,194 in individual contributions and another $757,468 in donations from political committees for a total of $1,241,194.56.

  • Kelly entered the cycle with $958,525 left over from his 2020 campaign.

  • He spent $1,129,117 during this period, leaving him with $1.07 million of cash in the bank.

  • Pastore raised $743,619 during the campaign, which includes the primary.

  • Of that, $394,351 were from individual donors, while $41,560 were from political committees.

  • Pastore also contributed $1,890 to his campaign and loaned himself another $300,000.

U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, of Butler, R-16th Dist., reacts to a question during a press conference held at Erie County Republican Party Headquarters in Millcreek Township on July 22, 2022.
U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, of Butler, R-16th Dist., reacts to a question during a press conference held at Erie County Republican Party Headquarters in Millcreek Township on July 22, 2022.

Top contributors

Kelly's top contributor this cycle was Butler-based Concast Metal Products, which gave him $11,600. Several PACs also contributed $10,000 each, including the Council of Insurance Agents & Brokers, the Majority Committee PAC, the National Association of Insurance & Financial Advisers and the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts, according to the campaign-finance data website OpenSecrets.org.

The top industries donating to Kelly's re-election bid were health professionals ($92,713); insurance ($73,750); automotive ($71,250); real estate ($67,300); and pharmaceuticals and health professionals ($56,250).

Dan Pastore, left, Democratic nominee for the 16th Congressional District, speaks with Erie resident Roberta McCall, 68, during a campaign meet and greet at Cellar 54 in North East Township on Oct. 7, 2022.
Dan Pastore, left, Democratic nominee for the 16th Congressional District, speaks with Erie resident Roberta McCall, 68, during a campaign meet and greet at Cellar 54 in North East Township on Oct. 7, 2022.

Members of the Pastore family donated at least $34,875 to the Democratic nominee's candidate. Pastore also counts among his contributors Erie businessmen Tom Hagen, the former CEO of Erie Insurance, who is currently the chairman of the company's board and the company's biggest stockholder, and Joel Deuterman, president of Velocity Network. Both Hagen and Deuterman have given Pastore's campaign $5,800 each.

How they've spent it

Kelly's largest one-time campaign expense was a $50,000 donation to the National Republican Congressional Committee. He's given the NRCC a total of $55,000 this cycle. The NRCC is the GOP's national fundraising arm for House of Representative races.

Kelly's largest single expenditure, however, was for lodging and facility rental at Teton Mountain Lodge on Oct. 29, 2021, in the amount of $21,768. His campaign also paid $3,193 to Hertz for rental car services while in Wyoming.

The trip appears to have occurred just weeks after the watchdog group Campaign Legal Center asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to look into how several members of Congress were using their leadership PACs.

The group noted that during the 2019-2020 cycle, Kelly's political action committee (not his campaign committee) had spent roughly $205,000, but only 22% of that spending was used toward other candidates, political parties and groups, as it is intended. Instead, the Campaign Legal Center alleged that Kelly might have violated a personal-use ban by spending "thousands of dollars on luxury trips, transportation, and dining; over $1,000 on event tickets; and hundreds of dollars on 'appreciation gifts.'"

Among the spending by Kelly's leadership PAC that the group questioned was $77,717 spent at the five-star St. Regis Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah.

Campaign Manager Melanie Brewer said that "nothing will come of that," referring to the complaint. The trip to Teton Mountain Lodge, like other out-of-district travel for Kelly, was for fundraising purposes, Brewer said. Those events typically include other members of Congress and other major political figures, Brewer said, and both Republicans and Democrats are known for holding them.

Kelly's other major campaign expenses included a total of $52,030 with Washington, D.C.-based H2 Capital Consulting for fundraising consultation services. He's also paid $45,907 to Brewer.

Kelly also spent $21,768 with Lamar Advertising, $14,410 with Cygnal, a Republican polling firm, $12,500 with Brabender Cox LLC for video production, and nearly $9,000 with DeSantis Signs for banners and signs.

Pastore's biggest expenditures have been for paying his campaign staff, consulting and digital advertising.

He paid just over $112,000 to Washington, D.C. company Paychec for payroll and associated costs, including taxes and workers compensation, for his campaign staff.

He's also invested $27,000 with Chartiers Group, a popular consulting firm that counts the Pennsylvania Democratic Party and Gov. Tom Wolf among its clients, for consulting.

Pastore also spent $42,384 on digital advertising production with Reputation Management Co., $22,403.23 with Fireside Campaigns for communication consulting, and $22,500 with Rittenhouse Political Partners for general campaign consulting, according to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

"I think we've done very well in this race in raising funds, and I'm most proud of just the tremendous number of supporters that we have, just how many individual contributors we have to the campaign," said Pastore. "We really see, you know, people giving everything from a couple dollars and up in contributions. It's just widespread support across the district for this race. And not only Democrats, it's independents and Republicans who are also being supportive."

Pastore, though, has not received any financial backing from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which he said is understandable. Most Democratic PACs are focusing on the races for governor and Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat, Pastore noted. And the DCCC is investing in seats it already holds to maintain its majority in the House, rather than attempting to flip seats currently held by the GOP.

Brewer said the six-term congressman from Butler "always receives significant support from organizations and his supporters.

"We raised over $1 million for this election and started with roughly $1 million in the bank after the previous election in 2020," Brewer said.

Brewer said the campaign was more focused on a "grassroots" style of campaign and held more events with Kelly where voters had to meet and talk with him. She said the campaign also spent significantly more money on billboards and radio ads than in previous campaigns.

"Through an understanding that the general public has fatigue from negative campaigning, we wanted to take a differing approach than just the mass mailers and cable spots, which is why we also mailed out our first edition of 'Good News', a newspaper-style flyer that went to over 40,000 homes within the district that highlighted the previous years achievements," Brewer said, adding that another focus was on campaign staff to build more relationships within the district.

Matthew Rink can be reached at mrink@timesnews.com and on Twitter at @ETNRink.

This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: Kelly outraises Democratic challenger Pastore in U.S. House race