A political action committee bolstered with donations from Butler Township attorney Robert Powell has contributed to the campaigns of three Luzerne County commissioner candidates, but two of them said there is nothing suspect.
The committee – Conservatives for Good Government – gave $1,000 to Republican commissioner candidate Bill Jones and $1,000 to the joint campaign of candidates Greg Skrepenak and Maryanne Petrilla.
The PAC has not filed a campaign finance report detailing these contributions, which may violate campaign finance reporting laws.
Powell, who is pushing for a $1.6 billion cargo airport and owns a juvenile detention facility leased by the county, has contributed at least $10,025 to the PAC. Patrick J. Owens Jr., a chief financial officer at Powell’s law firm, is treasurer of the PAC.
Skrepenak said he does not research the “inner workings” of PACs that donate to his campaign. The campaign frequently receives unsolicited donations, he said, adding that he would not reject a contribution from a PAC unless he disagrees with its purpose.
Skrepenak said he made it clear from the start of his political career that he won’t be swayed by campaign donations.
He noted that Powell had pushed for the creation of a county cargo airport authority, but Skrepenak has rejected that idea in favor of a study panel.
“People have supported me that I’ve had to say no to, and I think most people understood,” Skrepenak said.
Some may support him “thinking they will get everything they ask for,” he said.
“I have to do what’s best for the county as a whole,” he said.
Petrilla was not available for comment Friday.
Jones said his $1,000 donation from the PAC was for the purchase of 10 tickets to his fundraiser, not an outright donation.
He said his campaign representatives received the contribution from Owens, and he noted that Powell’s name is not listed as a representative of the PAC.
“We had no contact with Mr. Powell, nor did he attend the fundraiser,” Jones said. “Did I know who funded the PAC? Absolutely not.”
Jones blasted Republican opponent Stephen A. Urban for using the donation as a segue to make a statement that Jones is “the Democrats’ choice” and that Jones chose not to team up with Urban for the general election.
“He teamed up with Steve Flood – a Democrat. It’s OK for him but not someone else?” Jones said. “That’s a ridiculous statement. I don’t really care if someone is a Republican or Democrat. I’m in this for public service.”
Jones said Urban is the one who made it known in public statements that he would team up with Bill James, but nobody else. James did not make it past the primary.
“He was the first person to stand up and say he would not run with me or the other candidates,” Jones said.