Todd Platts on Friday criticized the amount of money that Scott R. Wagner has contributed to Michael Flannelly’s campaign for a seat on the York County Court of Common Pleas.
Platts and Flannelly are competing against each other in the May 21 primary.
Wagner, president and owner of Penn Waste Inc., contributed $20,000 on April 3; $22,000 on April 12; and $22,000 on April 18; $11,392.58 on April 29; $23,500 on May 3; and $11,400 on Monday.
He also gave an in-kind contribution of $2,000 on April 18 for use of trucks/signs.
Wagner contributed $10,000 on March 5.
Wagner contributed $11,000 on Thursday. That information is from a “24 hour” report.
“I think the average citizen will find that somewhat unbelievable, and outrageous, that one individual is contributing, at this point, over $130,000 to elect one person to the bench,” Platts said of Wagner’s contributions.
Platts said he has voluntarily capped what he will accept from one individual, to match federal limits, even though he’s not required to.
“I will not allow even the perception of any one individual wrongly influencing me or the electoral process,” Platts said.
Flannelly, who was appointed to the bench in 2012, said he’s grateful for Wagner’s support, and that he’s spending the money to educate voters about his qualifications.
He also said that Platts, who previously served as state representative and U.S. representative, started the campaign at an advantage.
“When I started this campaign, back in February, I didn’t have a spreadsheet with people who have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to me over the last 20 years,” Flannelly said.
Flannelly said that because of the contributions, he would recuse himself from ruling on any matters relating to Wagner. He also said that he was pleased that a large number of people contributed to his campaign.
Flannelly said that, for congressional campaigns, Platts received large contributions over a span of time from individuals.
“If Mr. Platts thinks that a lot of contributions by an individual is significant, then Mr. Platts certainly has that problem …. given the gross number of contributions that have been made,” Flannelly said.
And he said that Platts has donors in this race from other states, including North Carolina, Virginia and California.
Flannelly said his contributions are largely from people who live or work in York County.
Platts said the most he ever received in one campaign from an individual was about $2,000. And he said the number of friends and relatives who donated to him from out of state in this race is relatively small.
“I trust the voters to make that decision for themselves whether they think that’s a logical comparison,” Platts said. “As a native York Countian, I’m pretty comfortable in what I think the voters will believe. But they’ll decide for themselves.”
Wagner responded to Platts’ criticism in a statement, saying that Platts isn’t qualified to be judge and cited his low ratings by the York County Bar Association as evidence.
“As I stated previously, I am committed to making sure that York County has the best and most qualified judges. Todd Platts has spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to promote his name over the last 12 years. I am using my own personal, non-taxpayer dollars to support and promote the most qualified candidate for judge.
“According to court rules, Judge Flannelly would not be allowed to hear any cases involving me or any of my business interests. I will not get any personal benefit from my contributions, nor do I expect any benefit.
A spokesman for Wagner said he gave about $70,000 to judicial candidates in 2011.