Former Congressman Ryan Costello and Paul Martino Biggest Donors to PAC Supporting QAnon School Board Candidates

Jun 3, 2021 | Featured, Investigations

Pennsylvania Spotlight has obtained a new look at additional campaign finance documents for the latest dark money organization working to privatize education. The Keeping Kids In School PAC was formed last year supposedly by a mother in reaction to the COVID pandemic, but these documents reveal former Congressman Ryan Costello as the second-largest funder. 

Keeping-Kids-In-School-PAC-Documents

As previously reported, Paul Martino, a venture capitalist and ally to Project Veritas founder James O’Keefe is the largest funder of the Keeping Kids in Schools PAC. The latest campaign finance documents show a late donation by former Congressman Ryan Costello, making him the second-largest funder of the PAC.

The PAC has made headlines for running conspiracy theorists and people who were in attendance at the insurrection for school board positions across eastern Pennsylvania. Costello’s donations occurred on May 5th, requiring the PAC to file a late contributions addendum for the $2,500 check. Martino has a long history of funding right-wing candidates and causes. 

The Keeping Kids in Schools PAC associated itself with school board candidates in nine counties spanning from Lackawanna County in Northeastern Pennsylvania to Chester County in Southeastern Pennsylvania. The PAC coordinated with the Commonwealth Foundation’s dark money network in Pennsylvania. 

Commonwealth Foundation Communication’s Director Michael Torres appears as the author of this candidate supported by the Keeping Kids In School PAC editorial in Broad and Liberty when shared on popular work communications platform Slack.

The first story about the launch of the PAC was published by a right-wing website designed to be a news site that writes positively about Commonwealth Foundation initiatives as part of Pennsylvania’s right-wing echo chamber. A candidate supported by the PAC used another right-wing website designed to be a news site to respond to questions about her readiness for office. 

She used the site to respond to her own social media posts where she embraced conspiracy theories that led to the deadly insurrection. That site is connected to Linda Kerns, a lawyer who worked on behalf of Donald Trump to overturn the election, and the Commonwealth Foundation. Multiple candidates supported by the PAC have also posted pictures of their attendance at the Capitol on January 6th. 

While the PAC was presented in media across Pennsylvania as a grassroots organization, the campaign finance reports demonstrate the ulterior motives of the organization. It’s the latest addition to Pennsylvania’s list of front groups masking the work of billionaire donors and extremist politicians. 

Donate Here

Our accountability campaigns and digital organizing depends on supporters like you.

Capital Spotlight Newsletter