A re-election TV ad by U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum implying that his opponent in the November election, former state Auditor General Bob Casey, did a poor job in his previous position is "simply not true," current Auditor General Jack Wagner said yesterday.
Mr. Wagner said during a Downtown news conference that the ad takes comments he made at a March 2005 state budget hearing about a backlog of audits in the department out of context. He said he called the news conference to "set the record straight" and prevent Mr. Santorum from using the ad "for his political gain."
The ad "doesn't give justice to my statement," he said. "Bob Casey did a professional job as auditor general. The people of Pennsylvania know that and I'm here to state that today."
Mr. Wagner had testified at the hearing last year that there was a backlog of 839 audits when he succeeded Mr. Casey as auditor general. But he said yesterday he later amplified that statement for the committee, telling it that the number of backlogged audits was in constant flux.
He said the auditor general's office completes 5,000 audits annually on pension plans, school districts, volunteer fire departments, state prisons and liquor stores.
He said his office currently has a backlog of 679 audits.
Mr. Wagner was Mr. Casey's running mate during the latter's unsuccessful 2002 gubernatorial campaign.
"It comes as no surprise to the Santorum campaign that Jack Wagner would come out in support of Bob Casey," said Erica Clayton Wright, a spokeswoman in the senator's Pittsburgh office. She said the ads, which began Wednesday and run statewide, would continue.
"The facts are the facts. It's an ad that's based on facts."
Steve Levin can be reached at email@example.com or 412-263-1919.