The self-described "moderate" in Pennsylvania's Senate race, Conor Lamb, has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to a consulting firm that also works for Black Lives Matter, which supports defunding police and abolishing prisons.
From August to December 2021, Lamb funneled more than $270,000 to Fireside Campaigns for "communications consulting" and other services, federal campaign finance disclosures show. Fireside, which describes itself as a "majority queer-owned progressive digital, data, and communications consulting firm," also features the national Black Lives Matter group as a client.
Lamb's decision to employ a "progressive," BLM-linked firm to craft his campaign messaging could jeopardize his "moderate" status. Lamb has portrayed himself as the centrist alternative to liberal lieutenant governor John Fetterman in Pennsylvania's Democratic Senate primary, and the congressman often attempts to distance himself from the movement to defund police. But BLM is at the forefront of that movement. The group—which was cofounded by self-described "trained Marxists"—works to "reimagine public safety" by defunding police and abolishing prisons.
Fireside's work with BLM has landed the firm in hot water. Last week, Fireside sent a fundraising email on behalf of BLM's charity, Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation. The email asked for contributions to BLM's political group, Black Lives Matter PAC. IRS rules, however, prohibit charitable groups from soliciting donations to a political entity, putting Fireside in "clear violation" of the federal agency's laws, the Washington Examiner reported.
Neither Fireside nor Lamb returned requests for comment. In addition to Fireside's partnerships with Lamb and BLM, the firm works with a slew of other Democratic congressional hopefuls, including Ann Roe and Christy Smith. The two Democrats—who are running in competitive districts in Wisconsin and California, respectively—combined to send Fireside $145,000 in 2021. Fireside has also worked with the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, which works to elect Democrats to state legislative seats.
Lamb's campaign against Fetterman has thus far struggled to take off. According to Politico, Penn Progress, a super PAC backing Lamb, recently warned donors that the Democrat is trailing Fetterman by 30 points. The group attributed Lamb's shortcomings to the perception that "primary voters don't yet see Fetterman as the liberal he is," a dynamic Penn Progress said "needs to change" for Lamb "to have a path in the primary."
Fetterman, who has referred to himself as a democratic socialist and endorsed Bernie Sanders in the 2016 presidential race, has taken on a number of far-left positions during his time in the lieutenant governor's office. In late 2019, for example, Fetterman called to end life sentences for anyone who did not directly take another's life, a stance that could lead to the release of hundreds of heinous criminals serving life without parole for second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and other homicide charges. As head of Pennsylvania's five-person Board of Pardons, Fetterman went on to vote to release violent criminals who were jailed for their roles in brutal murders.
Lamb's Democratic allies could now look to highlight those positions in anti-Fetterman ads. A Penn Progress memo tested a slew of negative messages against Fetterman, including some that said the Democrat is a "dangerous radical who proudly calls himself a socialist" who "supports far-left policies like a $34 trillion-dollar government takeover of health care" and has "spoken at Defund the Police rallies and wants to release convicted felons back onto our streets."
Pennsylvania's Senate race became a top priority for both Democrats and Republicans after GOP incumbent Pat Toomey announced his retirement in October 2020. Fetterman is considered the Democratic frontrunner in a primary race that also includes state legislator Malcolm Kenyatta. On the Republican side, combat veteran and former hedge fund executive David McCormick leads celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz by 6 points, a March Washington Free Beacon poll shows.
Published under: Pennsylvania Senate