Power Players: Pennsylvania's top political donors, 2011-2012

Ten wealthy Pennsylvanians, including a husband supporting his wife for political office and a gay man seeking equality, contributed nearly $9 million to their favorite candidates. PublicSource, working with the Investigative News Network, identified the 10 biggest campaign contributors in the state using state and federal campaign data.


Donald and Susan Simms, Gibsonia, PA

United Mining Equipment | West Pennsylvania Allegheny Health Systems

Donald R. Simms and his wife Susan Simms, of Gibsonia, pull the Republican lever straight down the line with their political contributions. Together they contributed more than $323,000, which would have made them No. 9 on the list if their donations were combined.

Donald Simms is the president and CEO of United Mining Equipment in Butler, Pa., a private company that sells equipment for coal mining. United was established in 1993, according to documents on the Pennsylvania Secretary of State’s website, and Donald Simms is the sole officer. An employee of United who answered the telephone said Donald Simms was out of the country and calls to the Simms home were not answered.

The husband and wife share enthusiasms for virtually the same candidates, according to campaign finance records. They each give the $2,500 individual limit to Senate candidates such as Scott Brown of Massachusetts, George Allen of Virginia and Josh Mandel of Ohio, as well as to House candidates from states such as Virginia and Washington.

But they reserve their largest contributions for Political Action Committees. Each gave nearly $31,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and more than $49,000 to the Boehner for Speaker PAC, for U.S. House Speaker John Boehner.

Notable donations in 2011 and 2012:

  • $30,800 each to the National Republican Senatorial Committee PAC.
  • $49,200 to Boehner for Speaker PAC.
  • $5,000 each to Mitt Romney.

Contact Sharon Walsh at 412-681-5685 or at swalsh@publicsource.org.

Total contributions: $313,800

67 donations: 60 to candidates and 7 to committees

List of contributions

Sources: Center for Responsive Politics, National Institute on Money in State Politics, Federal Elections Commission and Pennsylvania Department of State.

Credits:PublicSource would like to thank The Center for Investigative Reporting for the use of their political contributions app, Rainmaker. The Investigative News Network coordinated the work between the many organizations sharing information for this project. Reporters Halle Stockton, Emily DeMarco and Reid Fraizer also contributed to this project.