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Montgomery County, Pa., Judge Carolyn Carluccio, Republican candidate for Pennsylvania Supreme Court, campaigns, Oct. 6, 2023, in Connellsville, Pa. (AP Photo/Barry Reeger, File)

Judge Carolyn Carluccio, the Republican nominee for an open seat on Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court, said in a Oct. 25 radio interview that having rich donors spend millions of dollars to elect her Democratic opponent “gives the seat a very bad look.” A day later, her campaign reported receiving millions of dollars’ worth of in-kind support from a political action committee bankrolled by conservative megadonor Jeff Yass.

Carluccio faces Democratic nominee Judge Dan McCaffery in an election ending Nov. 7. 

Asked during her appearance on WSBA Morning News with Gary Sutton, first flagged by the progressive super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, about negative ads in the race, Carulccio answered:

Certainly the negative has been the negative. It’s the negative ads. It’s the amount of special interest money that has come in, I have to say mainly on the opposition’s side. They have a lot of national money coming in, and it’s all special interests, and I think that that gives the seat a very bad look. Anytime somebody is dumping millions of dollars into a race, you have to wonder what they’re getting out of it, and our Supreme Court should be above that. All judges should be above that.

A Carluccio campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions for this story.

On Oct. 26, Carluccio’s committee filed its campaign finance report, disclosing that it had received $2.2 million in outside media buys, ad production, digital ads, and texting campaigns from the Commonwealth Leaders Fund since the start of the month. 

To date, the PAC has contributed almost $4.4 million in in-kind support for Carluccio. Much of that has gone to negative attack ads against McCaffrey.

The bulk of the Commonwealth Leaders Fund’s funding can be traced to billionaire Yass, who, according to a 2022 analysis by PennLive, is Pennsylvania’s richest individual. Yass co-founded the Wall Street investment firm Susquehanna International Group and has reportedly spent tens of millions of dollars to support right-wing causes and Republican politicians

Much of the outside support for McCaffrey has come from reproductive rights organizations that hope to preserve abortion rights in the commonwealth. Though Carluccio scrubbed her anti-abortion positions from her campaign website after winning the GOP primary, she is backed by both the Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania and the PA Pro-Life Federation.

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