PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Allegheny County Sheriff Pete DeFazio has raised over $1 million in campaign funds over the past six years, nearly half of it from employees or those were given honorary deputy badges, campaign finance records show.
Federal prosecutors reportedly are investigating DeFazio's fund-raising practices.
DeFazio's deputies are listed as giving him about $150,000 during the past six years, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Monday. Honorary deputies, who range from friends to celebrities who were given special badges that don't carry any arrest powers, gave DeFazio about $314,000, records show.
State election laws don't require candidates to disclose the identities of those who donated less than $250, so it's possible DeFazio's employees donated even more.
Federal authorities haven't said why they are investigating DeFazio, but those called in recent weeks to testify before a federal grand jury said they were asked about fund-raising and whether DeFazio accepted kickbacks from some of his management staff after he lobbied to get them generous raises.
More than $1,000
Sixty-nine of DeFazio's employees have contributed more than $1,000 during the past five years, records show.
DeFazio's staff said the sheriff never pressured his underlings to contribute to his campaigns and has done nothing wrong. Two of DeFazio's biggest fund-raising events are a Mother's Day luncheon and a Christmas party. Most employees buy tickets to the events.
"I've never seen anyone forced to buy a ticket," said Michael M. Mullen Jr., DeFazio's executive assistant and campaign treasurer. "I've heard remarks about people who didn't buy tickets, but they were not made in a sense of animosity."