The anti-abortion Republican billionaire trying to buy a Supreme Court seat in PA

Graphic by Francesca Daly, photograph of Jeff Yass courtesy of Marshall Segal via Flickr

By Sean Kitchen

October 26, 2023

Seventy percent of Carolyn Carluccio’s funding for her Pennsylvania Supreme Court race comes from Pennsylvania’s richest billionaire, Jeffrey Yass. Yass is also supporting anti-abortion candidates in Kentucky and Virginia. 

Pennsylvania’s richest billionaire, Jeffrey Yass, is making his money known in the race for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. 

Campaign finance reports show that Yass is by far the largest financial supporter of Carolyn Carluccio, the Republican nominee for the bench. Roughly $6.1 million has been spent to support Carluccio’s campaign since the beginning of the year, with $4.3 million—or 70% of the total money spent—coming from the Commonwealth Leaders Fund, which is funded by Yass and uses that money to air TV commercials on behalf of Carluccio.

Yass has funded several groups and candidates who oppose reproductive freedom, including Carluccio, who has been endorsed by the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, a group that wants to criminalize abortions in all cases. 

The Keystone also published a story earlier this year revealing that Carluccio removed anti-abortion language from her website. Carluccio posted a resume on her website during the Republican primary saying that she would be a defender of “all life under the law,” but that language was removed following her primary victory. When asked by various media outlets, Carluccio has claimed that her website was “updated” by a consultant and that’s how the error occurred. 

RELATED: Republican Nominee for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Wiped Anti-Abortion Language From Website

Carluccio is running against Dan McCaffery, the Democratic nominee who supports reproductive freedom, and the winner will fill the open seat on the state Supreme Court. Whoever wins on Election Day will hold power in determining the future of reproductive freedom, voting rights, workers rights, and more for the next decade.

Democrats currently hold a 4-2 majority on the court following the death of former Democratic Chief Justice Max Baer in Sept. 2022. Democrats would like to regain that 5-2 hold on the court with pivotal court races happening in 2025 and 2027. 

Supreme Court justices in Pennsylvania serve a 10-year term once elected and face a “yes” or “no” retention vote at the end of that term. 

Yass, who is an early American investor in TikTok and a co-founder of Susquehanna Group International, a global trading firm based outside of Philadelphia, has a net worth of $28.5 billion. He uses much of his money to fund Republican campaigns and right-wing conservative causes. 

Yass’ money flows from Yass to his Student First political action committee and is then funneled to two political action committees (PACs), The Commonwealth Leaders Fund and the Commonwealth Children’s Choice Fund.  That money is then distributed to candidates running for different offices.

Carluccio isn’t the only anti-abortion candidate Yass is throwing his money behind this election cycle, as Rolling Stone reported this week. The Philadelphia area billionaire is also getting involved in key races propping up anti-abortion Republicans in Kentucky and Virginia. 

According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Yass funneled money into a trio of PACs that spent $6 million airing TV ads supporting Daniel Cameron, Kentucky’s current Attorney General and the Republican nominee for governor. Cameron is known for his staunch defense of Kentucky’s near-total abortion ban, which does not include any exceptions for rape or incest. 

In Virginia, Yass gave $2 million to Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Spirit of Virginia PAC, which is controlled by Youngkin and funnels money to anti-abortion candidates throughout the state. Youngkin is not up for reelection until 2025 and has said that he would try to ban abortion in Virginia if Republicans win full control of the state legislature on Nov. 7.

While a Carluccio win in Pennsylvania would not immediately endanger reproductive rights, it would put Republicans one step closer to potentially passing an abortion ban. If Republicans narrow the majority on the court to a 4-3 Democratic majority, they could flip control in 2025, when three Democratic justices will be up for retention, creating a path to a potential abortion ban.

 

Author

  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized

Politics

Local News

VIDEO: Exploring the Harrisburg Mall

VIDEO: Exploring the Harrisburg Mall

Only two stores remain at the once-bustling Harrisburg Mall, which is set to be demolished this year. Let’s take a dive into the history of the mall...

Related Stories
Share This