A public watchdog group has filed a complaint against John Fetterman related to his purchase of a $75,000 property from his own nonprofit organization for $1,100.
The Democratic candidate for the Pennsylvania Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) engaged in self-dealing by buying the land from Braddock Redux, a nonprofit operated directly by Fetterman.
— Michael Ginsberg (@mikeginsberg98) November 3, 2022
The complaint was filed by the Center for Accountability and Government Ethics, a subsidiary of the CPAC Foundation with the Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth and the Pennsylvania Ethics Commission.
Braddock Redux was organized for the stated purpose of assisting with the redevelopment of the economically troubled steel town of Braddock, Pennsylvania, during the time Fetterman served as its mayor. It was specifically involved in a real estate contract between Fetterman personally and Jebediah Feldman.
Feldman was serving at the time as the vice president of Braddock Redux and as deputy mayor of Braddock.
According to the complaint, Feldman bought the land in question for $75,000 in 2007 and held the title in his personal capacity. Four years later, he conveyed the land to Braddock Redux for $1. Three years after that, Braddock Redux sold the same parcel to Fetterman in his personal capacity for $1,100.
The end result of the transaction indicates Fetterman acquired the land for around 1.5% of its 2007 market value.
The complaint also cited sales of other properties adjacent or very near the subject parcel to show that the transaction was for an amount that creates “the appearance of improper conduct.” It adds that the president of a nonprofit directing the organization to transfer an asset to the president in his personal capacity for so far below fair market value “appears to be a clear violation of fiduciary obligations.”
Fetterman campaign spokesman Joe Calvello responded to press inquiries about the complaint by calling it “frivolous and ridiculous.” He said it was filed by a “far-right dark money group,” and said that Braddock Redux was created to “help disadvantaged young people.”
Calvello did not address the substance of the complaint, instead deflecting by claiming Braddock Redux was instrumental in “combating economic insecurity” and reducing gun violence.
A previously filed ethics complaint alleges that Fetterman’s Senate campaign failed to disclose the eight properties he owns in Braddock on his election financial disclosures.
The latest polling average published by RealClearPolitics (RCP) indicates Fetterman’s Republican opponent, Dr. Mehmet Oz, is leading among likely Pennsylvania voters by 0.3 percentage points, 46.6% to 46.3%. Because of the underrepresentation of GOP voters in the polls, RCP projects that Oz will win the seat in next week’s election by 2.9 points.