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The Independence Law Center, according to its website, is affiliated with and located in the same office as the Pennsylvania Family Institute, a 501(c)3 nonprofit group.

The Pennsylvania Family Institute, according to its website and tax filings, is involved in advocacy work promoting religious freedom, family values and advocating against abortion and same-sex marriage, and spent over $1.4 million in 2016, according to its most recent publicly available tax filing.

The Pennsylvania Family Institute’s website also contains a blog that references the Mechanicsburg High School Bible controversy in multiple postings, including two posts with the headlines “School Bans Sharing Bibles” and “Lift the Bible Sharing Ban.”

Those allegations are at the center of the Mechanicsburg Area Senior High School Bible controversy, where the school district maintains it has not banned the sharing of Bibles, but has restricted mass distribution of any literature — religious or not — during school hours.

The Pennsylvania Family Institute also shares staff with the Pennsylvania Family Council, a legally separate nonprofit that is registered as a 501(c)4, giving it added leeway in political lobbying activities.

State election filings show that the Pennsylvania Family Council made several independent expenditures in the 2018 election in favor of Republican candidates in battleground districts.

The Council spent over $6,000 to support Jeremy Shaffer in his state Senate battle against Lindsay Williams, and $3,500 to support John Rafferty in a similar Senate race against Katie Muth. Both GOP contenders lost.

All of the filings were made by Randall Wenger, who is listed as chief counsel for the ILC, Pennsylvania Family Institute and Pennsylvania Family Council, all of whom list their address as 23 N. Front St. in Harrisburg.

On its 2016 tax return, the most recent that is publicly available, the Pennsylvania Family Council also reports that it is financially affiliated with the PA Family PAC, a section 527 political action committee that also shares the Harrisburg address.

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Email Zack at zhoopes@cumberlink.com.


Cumberland County/Investigative Reporter

Reporter for The Sentinel.