Ravenstahl PAC gives $10,000 to Wheatley

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Outgoing Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is keeping up his novel attempts to keep political foe Bill Peduto from replacing him, now funding one of the councilman's rivals in the May 21 Democratic primary.

Mr. Ravenstahl's political action committee was one of the lead contributors to state Rep. Jake Wheatley of the Hill District, cutting his state PAC a $10,000 check last week, financial records show. The mayor's political fund also transferred $151,000 to another PAC he chairs that is running television attack ads against Mr. Peduto.

The Peduto campaign has tried to link Mr. Ravenstahl to the other main contender in the mayoral race, former state Auditor General Jack Wagner, so it was unexpected to see it proven that he was aiding a different rival. Even to the Wheatley campaign.

"We were just as surprised as anybody" to get the mayor's check, Wheatley spokesman Daren Berringer said.

Mr. Ravenstahl is likely trying to help the Wheatley campaign strip some of Mr. Peduto's support among black voters. The councilman won 33 percent of an April 20 straw poll of African-American voters, to 52 percent for Mr. Wheatley and 13 percent for Mr. Wagner.

Mr. Ravenstahl still had $564,000 in his political account as of the close of the fundraising period Monday, leaving him with more money than any of the men seeking to replace him. His separate "Committee for a Better Pittsburgh" recently reserved ad time through the upcoming primary, presumably to keep battering Mr. Peduto.

Mr. Peduto and Mr. Wagner go into the home stretch with similar bank accounts, although the latter candidate had a bigger haul.

Mr. Wagner's campaign raised $1.2 million this spring, spent $927,000 and had $309,000 left as of Monday. His funds comprised $371,000 brought forward from his former auditor general account and $865,000 in new giving.

Notable PAC contributors included: Local 66 Operating Engineers ($34,000); International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 5 ($27,500); state Sen. Jim Ferlo, D-Highland Park ($10,000); TC PAC/Trumbull Corp. ($10,000); EQT Corp. ($10,000).

Large individual contributors giving $10,000 each included: Washington Landing wind power executive James Spencer; realty executive James Rudolph; businessman/Pittsburgh Power owner Lance Shaner; investor Murray Gerber and developer Ira Gumberg. Pitt-Ohio trucking executive Charles Hammel III gave $25,000.

Mr. Peduto raised $946,624 this spring, spent $689,197 and had $257,427 in cash in the late sprint toward the upcoming primary. He brought forward $261,000 from last year and raised $685,682 through the first four months of the year.

Mr. Peduto's large PAC contributors included: Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald ($50,000); WUF PAC ($45,000); Local 32PJ/SEIU ($25,000); Western Pennsylvania Laborers ($15,000). Large individual contributors included: Medical executive Bill Benter and his wife, Vivian Fung ($20,000); developer Mark Aloe ($5,000); attorney Paul Gitnick ($5,000); realtor Peter Gordon ($5,000).

Construction executive Robert Mistick gave both the Peduto and Wagner teams $10,000.

In small gifts of $1 to $250, Mr. Peduto collected $104,000 to $22,000 by Mr. Wagner.

Mr. Wheatley raised $62,000 this spring, spent $21,000 and had $41,000 going into the last bit of the campaign. Almost $30,000 came from fellow Rep. Dwight Evans, D-Philadelphia, a Wheatley mentor who appointed him to the House Appropriations Committee a decade ago.

A fourth Democratic candidate, Sheraden activist A.J. Richardson, did not file a finance report. Only those collecting more than $250 must do so.

Total giving for individuals and PACs would have been capped at $4,000 and $8,000, respectively, in the mayor's race, before a county judge suspended them on a technicality in April. That ruling cleared the way for Mr. Wagner to shift his $371,000 in state funds to the city campaign, which gave him a lift upon his late entry to the race after Mr. Ravenstahl announced March 1 that he would not seek re-election.

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Tim McNulty: tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581. Follow the Early Returns blog at earlyreturns.sites.post-gazette.com or on Twitter at @EarlyReturns.


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