After OpenSecrets published its report, The Morning Call advanced the story, explaining for its Allentown regional audience how, in effect, “no one will know who paid for the Smith attack ad[s],” but that the funds were “arranged locally.” Reporters Colby Itkowitz and Scott Kraus interviewed Woodman and described how his 501(c)4, Restore the Dream, must—in order to maintain its non-disclosing status—do more than fund attack ads. Wrote Itkowitz and Kraus:
So far, Restore the Dream’s only activity has been giving money to a political action committee, but as long as it does more education and advocacy in the same fiscal year — as Woodman says it plans to do — the arrangement is lawful.
PoliticsPA blog, too, reported last week on this “unknown funding” (citing OpenSecrets).
In the end, the Welch-supporting arrangement was the equivalent of a hidden-ball trick, with the score of the game about 35-10 in the fourth quarter. Now that the season’s over, and with the Welch team not making the playoffs, there’s perhaps less interest in following the story. (And, indeed, there is a lot going on in Pennsylvania these days—some of it even having to do with football.)
But Fight for the Dream and Restore the Dream plan to stick around. Indeed, Woodman told OpenSecrets that Fight for the Dream’s “efforts did not end with Welch’s defeat, and the group will continue to raise and spend money on political campaigns.” Pennsylvania media outlets should keep these groups (and others like them) on their radar. Voters deserve to know how campaign finance disclosure requirements can be made meaningless, leaving them—along with lots of money—in the dark.