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By J.D. Prose

A political action committee that champions campaign finance reform said Thursday that U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus is one of its “top targets” in the general election.

End Citizens United, a group formed after the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court ruling loosened campaign finance laws, has placed Rothfus, R-12, Sewickley, on its Big Money 20 list, which comprises politicians that will be targeted with End Citizens United’s $35 million campaign.

“Congressman Keith Rothfus has a terrible record of stacking the deck in favor of his mega-donors while ignoring Pennsylvania families,” End Citizens United president Tiffany Muller said in a statement.

“We’ve inducted Rothfus to the Big Money 20 because he’s one of Washington’s worst offenders, and Pennsylvania families are paying the price,” Muller said. “We’re mobilizing our grass-roots members to help throw him out of office and elect a reformer who will fight for the needs of families in the district.”

In the 17th Congressional District race, that likely refers to U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, D-18, Mount Lebanon, whom End Citizens United endorsed in the 18th District special election in March. Lamb announced that he would reject corporate PAC money in that race.

Lamb and Rothfus are now in a high-profile general election battle in the new 17th District, which includes Beaver County, part of Cranberry Township in Butler County and part of Allegheny County.

“This is a desperate attempt by the extreme left and their outside forces to falsely attack the congressman’s record in order to support Conor Lamb, the Manchurian liberal,” Rothfus campaign spokesman Mike Barley said. “Conor likes to pretend he is one thing in the district, but he has received contributions from the who’s who of liberal donors from coast to coast, including Rosie O’Donnell. He also broke his pledge to not take PAC donations, proving that Congressman Lamb, the elected official, is far different than the candidate who worked overtime to shield his true record from voters just months ago.”

Barley said the majority of Rothfus’ campaign donations have come from individuals, “which calls into question the credibility of this outside group.” He also said that PAC money has had “zero bearing” on how Rothfus has voted, which includes votes against a trade promotion authority, a recent farm bill and the federal omnibus spending bill.

In its statement, End Citizens United claimed 4,100 members in the 17th District and described Rothfus as “a staunch ally of Wall Street” by supporting bills favorable to big banks, such as his legislation to overturn a rule prohibiting financial corporations from requiring consumers to agree to arbitration in disputes.

While critics said the rule allowed consumers to pursue class-action lawsuits, Rothfus insisted that consumers fared better in arbitration cases than in lawsuits where legal fees took away from any monetary awards.

The group also said Rothfus has taken more than $490,000 in campaign contributions from Wall Street.

End Citizens United noted that Rothfus has backed limiting the power of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and voted against having the House move forward with the Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light on Spending in Elections (DISCLOSE) Act, which would require groups spending money for political purposes to disclose their contributors.