As the “Trump Primary” heats up, it’s getting uglier, and now, a group backing Lou Barletta is going all-in on attacking rival Bill McSwain, calling him “Pat Toomey’s puppet.”

PENNSYLVANIA — The infighting among “Super MAGA” primary candidates desperate to prove their loyalty to Donald Trump is escalating — and this time, a group backing Lou Barletta, one of Trump’s earliest endorsers in Congress and most loyal allies, is attacking Trump’s former U.S. Attorney, Bill McSwain. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, the group called the 1776 Project Committee is out with a new website, a Twitter account, and text messages targeting Bill McSwain as “Property of Pat Toomey.”

In case you missed the latest escalation in the GOP primary infighting, check out The Philadelphia Inquirer’s coverage below: 

The Philadelphia Inquirer: A new group is backing Lou Barletta and attacking Bill McSwain as ‘Pat Toomey’s puppet’

By Andrew Seidman, 02/10/22

It’s no secret that Sen. Pat Toomey fell out of favor with GOP voters after he voted to convict former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial over the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

He’s retiring after his second term ends in January, but now his criticism of Trump is seen as a potential political liability for other Republicans seeking statewide office. Or at least that appears to be the thinking behind a new political group attacking Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill McSwain as “Pat Toomey’s puppet.”

Records show the group, which calls itself the 1776 Project Committee, hopes the attacks will benefit McSwain rival Lou Barletta, a former congressman and staunch Trump ally.

The committee’s website depicts a puppeteer controlling McSwain with strings attached to a cross that says: “Property of Pat Toomey.”

“Tell Bill that Pennsylvania needs a Governor who is puppet to No One,” the website says, asking people to sign a petition.

The site links to news articles about Toomey’s impeachment vote and Trump’s criticism of the senator. Some of McSwain’s top aides — including campaign manager James Fitzpatrick and strategist Peter Towey — previously worked for Toomey. (Fitzpatrick served on Trump’s 2020 campaign.)

The group also created a Twitter account and sent text messages urging people to “say ‘No!’ to Bill McSwain and Pat Toomey,” according to a screenshot of one such text.

McSwain, a former U.S. attorney, has noted in debates that Trump nominated him for the position.

The 1776 Project Committee formed earlier this month and is planning to make independent expenditures to support Barletta in the governor’s race, according to records filed with the Pennsylvania Department of State.


Spokespeople for McSwain and Toomey didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment Thursday. Barletta’s campaign declined to comment.