GOP group runs with ad attacking candidate for Pa. attorney general despite errors
HARRISBURG — Democrats attacked a Republican group on Monday because it continued to air a TV commercial criticizing Kathleen Kane, the Democratic candidate for state attorney general, even after the group was confronted with evidence of serious mistakes in the ad.
Democrats tried to turn the attack ad by the Washington-based Republican State Leadership Committee against Kane’s Republican opponent, David Freed.
“David Freed’s inaction right now speaks volumes as to what kind of attorney general’s office he would run … if his campaign for Pennsylvania’s top law enforcement job doesn’t even care about the truth,” said Jim Burn, the Democratic Party’s state chairman.
Freed’s campaign manager, Tim Kelly, said there is no coordination between the candidate and the Republican State Leadership Committee, and he issued a statement that did not criticize the group.
“David Freed is running his campaign in the way he’s run the district attorney’s office for the past seven years, with honesty and integrity,” Kelly said. “It’s our sincere hope that our opponent, as well as any outside groups that are supporting our campaign or our opponent’s campaign, conduct themselves in an honest and ethical manner.” Freed is the district attorney of Cumberland County.
Kane, a former Lackawanna County prosecutor, is making her first bid for elective office, trying to become the first woman and the first Democrat to be elected as the state’s chief legal and law enforcement officer.
In the ad, the Republican State Leadership Committee claims that Kane mishandled two rape cases. But Kane’s former boss, Lackawanna County District Attorney Andrew Jarbola, a Republican, said on Monday that Kane had nothing to do with either case. Court clerks put her name on the case dockets because she was the prosecutor on duty at central court that day, Jarbola said.
The Republican State Leadership Committee could have found the name of the prosecutor who handled the cases by reading through the case files, he said.
“They don’t know how the system operates, and this is coming from a Republican DA,” Jarbola said.
The Republican State Leadership Committee is devoted to electing party members to state-level public offices. A spokesman, Adam Temple, said a revised ad would begin running on Monday.
The group said on Friday that it would withdraw the ad after it was told that it erroneously tied Kane to “a weak plea deal” in a 2007 rape case. Kane’s campaign distributed statements by the victim’s father and a prosecutor saying she had no role in the sentencing or plea.
The ad, which began airing on Thursday, continued to run over the weekend on TV stations in the Philadelphia area.
A second claim in the ad accuses Kane of “going soft” in the 2005 prosecution of what it calls a 16-year-old’s rapist. The defendant pleaded guilty to indecent assault forcible compulsion and corruption of minors — both misdemeanors that do not necessarily amount to the same elements of the crime of rape, Jarbola said.
The national group did not acknowledge any mistake. Rather, it tried to blame Kane.
In a statement on Monday, Temple said Kane “has further weakened her credibility by letting others take responsibility for cases where court records show she was the attorney.” Jarbola called that claim “baloney,” and Kane’s campaign accused the group of running “vicious and unsubstantiated attacks.” The election is Nov. 6.