An Audit of State Representative's Election Expenses In Pennsylvania

In Hamilton v. Hennessey, 783 A.2d 852 (Pa. Cmwlth. 2001), aff'd per curiam, 569 Pa. 101, 800 A.2d 927 (2002), an individual sought an audit of the election expenses of a state representative, alleging that the publicly-financed newsletters of the representative constituted "political advertisements" which should have been included as campaign expenses. In the course of litigation, subpoenas were requested addressed to members and staff of the House Republican Caucus, which then attempted to quash the subpoenas based, inter alia, on the principle of separation of powers. Specifically, the Caucus asserted that the issue of whether the challenged newsletter constituted campaign literature was a non-justiciable political question, consideration of which by the courts would violate the separation of powers doctrine. Ultimately, the Commonwealth Court concluded that interpretation by the Courts of a statute governing campaign expenses was permissible and did not violate the doctrine of separation of powers.