In the 2022 election cycle, Democrat Representative Matt Cartwright repeatedly attacked his opponent for working for a lobbying agency — but not just any lobbying agency.

Cartwright’s Republican challenger Jim Bognet worked for an outfit paid to try to squash a bill allowing the injured survivors and families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for allegedly having sponsored and trained most of the attackers.

Cut to 2023.

In October of that year — a mere six months ago — Cartwright accepted a $1,000 donation from Thomas Spulak. Spulak has worked as a lobbyist for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. As part of that work, Spulak tried to squash a bill allowing the injured survivors and families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia for allegedly having sponsored and trained most of the attackers.

The October 2023 donation from Spulak to Cartwright wasn’t the first of its kind, either. FEC records show that since 2018, Spulak made four donations to Cartwright’s campaign committee totaling $2,000. Additionally, a political action committee for King & Spaulding, the law firm Spulak works for, made a $1,500 donation to Cartwritght’s campaign in June of 2022, roughly two months before Cartwright’s attack ads would air against Bognet.

Federal disclosures show Spulak’s work for the Saudis began in 2016, meaning that for years, Cartwright has been accepting donations from someone who committed the same offense he accused Bognet of — the same offense that Cartwright launched TV attack ads about.

“I cleared the rubble. The smell was so horrible,” a man named Kevin says on one of the attack ads personally approved by Cartwright. “Thousands of dead Americans. You know who understands this? Matt Cartwright? He and his wife work with the victim’s families without pay. But here’s the thing. This other guy, his lobbying firm, helped the Saudis avoid paying those victims families. So never forget. I know I won’t.”

Emails and voicemails sent to Cartwright’s campaign offices requesting comment were either not returned or were not successful. Emails to Spulak and his firm, King & Spaulding, were not returned.

Another federal disclosure shows Spulak’s firm was paid over $370,000 in 2017 for Spulak to lobby specifically in relation to the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, or JASTA.

“This is the hypocrisy that turns voters off,” said Republican consultant Charlie Gerow.

JASTA was passed by both houses of Congress in 2016. 

Cartwright could have very well launched an attack ad against his own party’s former leader. President Obama vetoed the bill on September 23, 2016, but both chambers moved to quickly override it, making it the only veto override of Obama’s presidency.

Ordinarily, U.S. citizens can’t file lawsuits against other countries because the countries enjoy sovereign immunity. But JASTA created a narrow exception. Opponents to the law argued that other countries would do the same, namely, allow its citizens to sue the United States, or its agents or citizens.

Cartwright defeated Bognet in the 2022 race for Pennsylvania’s 8th Congressional District by a slim 51-49 margin, one of the two closest races for a Pennsylvania congressional seat that year. The pair were separated by just over 7,000 votes in the district that encompasses Wayne, Pike and Lackawanna counties as well as parts of Luzerne and Monroe.

Todd Shepherd is Broad + Liberty’s chief investigative reporter. Send him tips at, or use his encrypted email at @shepherdreports

One thought on “Rep. Cartwright takes donations from lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, in contrast to his 2022 attack ads against his Republican opponent”

  1. Are republicans against sketchy deals with Saudi all of a sudden? If so, ho boy, you’ll want to sit down for this. Talk about hypocricy!🤑

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