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ALLEN N. BRUNWASSER v. BARTON FIELDS (02/09/79)

decided: February 9, 1979.

ALLEN N. BRUNWASSER, PLAINTIFF
v.
BARTON FIELDS, SECRETARY OF THE COMMONWEALTH, DEFENDANT



Original jurisdiction in case of Allen N. Brunwasser v. Barton Fields, Secretary of the Commonwealth.

COUNSEL

Allen N. Brunwasser, plaintiff, for himself.

Elisabeth S. Shuster, Deputy Attorney General, with her Norman J. Watkins, Deputy Attorney General, Chief, Civil Litigation, and Gerald Gornish, Acting Attorney General, for defendant.

President Judge Bowman and Judges Crumlish, Jr., Wilkinson, Jr., Mencer, Rogers, Blatt and MacPhail. Judges DiSalle and Craig did not participate. Opinion by President Judge Bowman.

Author: Bowman

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 382]

Allen N. Brunwasser (petitioner), a resident of Allegheny County, and a member of the bar, has invoked the original jurisdiction of this Court pursuant to Section 401 of the Appellate Court Jurisdiction Act of 1970,*fn1 now the Judicial Code, 42 Pa.C.S. § 761, by filing a complaint in equity*fn2 seeking an order enjoining the respondent, the Secretary of the Commonwealth (Secretary), from issuing a certificate of election to Allegheny County Common Pleas Judge I. Martin Wekselman and for other relief.

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 383]

Judge Wekselman was elected to begin service as an Allegheny County Judge by winning both the Republican and Democratic nominations in the primary election held in May of 1977, and by receiving the majority of votes in the November, 1977, general election. Upon certification by the local election board of these election returns it then became the duty of the Secretary to issue a certificate of election to the successful candidate. Section 201(f) of the Pennsylvania Election Code (Election Code), Act of June 3, 1937, P.L. 1333, as amended, 25 P.S. § 2621(f).

The gravamina of petitioner's complaint are allegations of a host of Election Code violations regarding campaign contributions to Judge Wekselman's campaign, as reflected in the expense accounts filed by him with the Allegheny County Board of Elections. These violations are purported to include alleged contributions from certain law firms, corporations, and unincorporated associations; the failure to appoint a named election committee or to file a campaign collection and expense return; and distribution of literature on election day.*fn3

It is petitioner's contention that notwithstanding the duty imposed upon the Secretary by Section 201(f) of the Election Code, Section 1851, 25 P.S. § 3551, prohibits the Secretary from issuing a certificate to Judge Wekselman under the extant circumstances, and so provides a basis for his cause of action. This Section directs:

Any person who shall, while a candidate for office, be guilty of bribery, fraud or willful violation of any provision of this act, shall be forever disqualified from holding said office or any

[ 40 Pa. Commw. Page 384]

    other office of trust or profit in ...


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