Your Local News | Allentown, Bethlehem & Easton
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Lehigh Valley Election News

Pinsley claims victory in Lehigh County controller race

Lehigh County Controller Mark Pinsley appears to have won a second term Tuesday night over challenger Robert Smith Jr.
  • Mark Pinsley appears to have won a second term as Lehigh County Controller
  • Pinsley, a Democrat from South Whitehall Township, has made headlines for his unconventional audits, which have led to clashes with other elected officials
  • He defeated Robert Smith Jr., a Republican who previously served on Allentown School Board

ALLENTOWN, Pa. — Democrat Mark Pinsley appeared to have won a second term as Lehigh County controller, unofficial results showed Tuesday night.

As of 10:50 p.m., Pinsley led Republican challenger Robert Smith Jr. by more than 6,200 votes more than 97.5% of precincts reporting.

In a statement Tuesday night, Pinsley thanked his supporters and said it's been an honor to serve as their controller.

"It is clear that voters appreciate an auditor who can save millions of dollars, unearth injustice and represent the people, not the powerful," Pinsley said.

"I am excited to go into this new term fighting harder than ever."

Pinsley has made a name for himself over the past four years by conducting unconventional audits that haven't always sat well with other elected officials.

Along with mandated audits such as checking on how money is handled by county employees, he's taken dives into how much the county charges inmates for phone calls at Lehigh County Jail and policy decisions over the health insurance package offered to county employees.

Perhaps his most contentious audit examined the cases of child medical abuse cases in the Lehigh Valley. His findings showed diagnoses were unusually high, which raised questions whether children were being wrongly removed from their families.

The threat of pending litigation led county commissioners to call off the investigation they had only recently started.

Smith, a former Allentown School Board director, led an aggressive campaign criticizing Pinsley's focus on unconventional audits, saying he was wasting taxpayers' money on issues outside his purview.

He also warned that Pinsley would not commit to serving a full term as controller.

Pinsley ran for state senate last year and kicked the tires on a bid for lieutenant governor in 2021. Pinsley, for his part, said he was open to finding new opportunities to serving Pennsylvanians.

In the week before the election, the race made headlines for matters unrelated to the candidates' credentials or policies.

On Wednesday, Pinsley sued the Lehigh County Republican Committee after it mailed attack ads claiming he participated in a "pro-Hamas" rally.

Pinsley, who is Jewish, attended an Oct. 13 rally in Allentown that he described as pro-Palestinian. He is seeking $1 million in damages for defamation.

The next day, LehighValleyNews.com broke news that Pinsley accepted a $50,000 political contribution from Francis Malofiy, a Philadelphia-area attorney.

Malofiy is pursuing potential litigation over the allegations of child medical abuse with Lehigh Valley Health Network and Lehigh County as potential defendants.

The donation is believed to be the single largest political contribution from a single donor to a single candidate in county history.

Several county commissioners have gone on record saying they will revisit the county's campaign finance laws, which do not currently set limits on how much individuals can contribute.

Malofiy denied the check was a finder's fee for Pinsley, who said he introduced several families to Malofiy.