Campaign Contributions Suggest Pay-For-Play Behind PA Lawmaker’s Anti-Pipeline Vendetta

A Pennsylvania lawmaker has benefited handsomely from his anti-pipeline vendetta, according to campaign finance data analyzed by the website Natural Gas Now.

The report found that state Sen. Andy Dinniman, a Democrat and leading critic of the Mariner East pipeline project, has accepted nearly $80,000 in campaign contributions from a real estate developer engaged in a lawsuit against the owner of the pipeline. According to Natural Gas Now:

Hankin Group was the second highest contributor to Andy Dinniman’s between 2014 and 2018, donating $29,500 to the ongoing campaign. Just two months before the lawsuit was announced, the Hankin Group provided Dinniman with an additional $1,000. The Hankin Group, in fact, has donated nearly $80,000 to Dinniman’s career as a state senator.

The contributions, according to Natural Gas Now, suggested a pay-for-play relationship between Dinniman and the Hankin Group.

A review of donations from the Hankin Group and Dinniman’s activism raises additional questions about the timing of some events. For instance, two months after Andy Dinniman was named to the Pennsylvania Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force, Hankin Group donated $10,900 to Friends of Andy Dinniman, its second-largest single donation to the elected official.

Dinniman first advocated for tighter pipeline regulations on September 9, 2011, using social media. In a tweet, Absent Amdy noted “It’s time to tighten natural gas pipeline regulations,” linking to an editorial in the Pocono Record. A mere six days later, the Hankin Group donated $13,815 to the Friends of Andy Dinniman, according to the public records.

All this comes as one of Dinniman’s colleagues, state Rep. Danielle Friel Otten, is facing calls to resign following a tweet comparing pipeline construction workers to Nazis.