(UPDATE) Gerry Lenfest Is Tom Corbett’s Fifth-Biggest Donor
[Update 6 p.m.] Interstate General Media, the company that owns the papers and Philly.com, sends along a statement saying the donations are old news:
In February 2014, The Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Magazine both reported on the nature of Mr. Lenfest’s $250,000 donation to Governor Corbett’s reelection campaign. The donation was directly related to the governor’s approval of a $30 million grant for the proposed Museum of the American Revolution.
In the Feb. 4 Inquirer article, headlined “Lenfest second largest individual donor to Corbett”, Mr. Lenfest made the following statements regarding his donation in an interview:
“I greatly appreciated that support from the Commonwealth,” Lenfest said. He said he was “even more appreciative of what Gov. Corbett did” because Lenfest had supported Democrat Dan Onorato for governor in 2010.*
“He (Corbett) saw the museum as something worthy of support. . . . It wasn’t a quid pro quo because he didn’t know that I’d give to him when he approved the RCAP grant,” Lenfest said.*
It should be noted that Mr. Lenfest’s political contributions to the governor’s campaign were made prior to becoming sole owner and publisher of Interstate General Media’s publications. Mr. Lenfest stands by The Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com’s fair and balanced coverage of the gubernatorial campaign.
[Original] Gerry Lenfest, publisher of the Inquirer, Daily News, and Philly.com, is one of the biggest cash donors to the re-election campaign of Gov. Tom Corbett, an Associated Press analysis reveals.
Lenfest has given $252,000 to Corbett’s campaign, making him the Republican’s fifth-biggest donor, AP reported.
Lenfest became publisher over the summer after he and the late Lew Katz won a bidding war against a group led by George Norcross, the New Jersey political power broker who had previously led the majority shareholders in the papers. Under Norcross’s direction, critics in the newsroom were vocal about concerns he would try to use the Inquirer’s political coverage to support to punish preferred political candidates — particularly when Corbett was given his own (never-used) column at Philly.com.
Lenfest’s office did not return a call inquiring how, if at all, he keeps his political and journalistic activities separate. After winning the bid last spring, Katz and Lenfest said they would not take a pledge of non-interference in the paper’s editorial decisions. “It won’t be necessary,” Lenfest said at the time.