Chamber's anti-Sestak ad revised a little, back on air
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WASHINGTON -- Two Pittsburgh-area television stations have put a slightly revised version of an ad attacking Senate candidate Rep. Joe Sestak back on the air after yanking them earlier this week.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce had bought the ad time on 16 stations across Pennsylvania, but the Sestak campaign protested them as inaccurate. The campaign wrote to the stations saying that the ad was false for claiming Mr. Sestak votes with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi 100 percent of the time and for calling the health care reform bill a "government takeover."
WPGH and WPMY, sister stations owned by Sinclair Broadcasting, pulled the ad from the air for a day -- citing the 100 percent voting record as inaccurate -- but reversed course Friday after station sales manager Rich Cook spoke with the Chamber.
The Sestak campaign cited a recent vote against an amendment on the DISCLOSE Act -- a bill to restrict campaign financing -- as evidence that Mr. Sestak is not always in line with Ms. Pelosi, so Mr. Cook agreed to air a slightly altered ad noting that the 100 percent was as of June 24.
But Ms. Pelosi, as is customary for a speaker, rarely votes. She has cast only 77 ballots this Congress, while Mr. Sestak has voted nearly 1,300 times, according to a Washington Post votes database.
The Post tally shows Mr. Sestak has been on the side of the majority of Democrats 97.8 percent of the time during this Congress. Because so many votes are noncontroversial, that percentage ranks Mr. Sestak in the middle of the Democratic caucus.
Still, Mr. Sestak has supported all of the House's major pieces of legislation this session -- from health care to Wall Street reform to cap-and-trade -- and often advocated more aggressive bills than what ended up passing.
In a conference call with reporters, Bill Miller, the chamber's political director, called the flap "one of the most ludicrous attempts to try to stifle our ability and our First Amendment rights to inform the people of Pennsylvania."
The business group has reportedly pledged to spend $75 million on the midterm elections, and is one of many outside groups that inevitably will wade into the closely contested race between Mr. Sestak, a second-term congressman from Delaware County, and Republican Pat Toomey, a former congressman from Allentown.
"The ads are clearly false, but in the end they won't work," said Sestak campaign spokesman Jonathon Dworkin. "Congressman Toomey's reliance on special interest groups from outside of Pennsylvania to come into the state to tell lies and distort Joe's record on his behalf simply underscores whose team he is on. It's time for someone who fights for Pennsylvania's working families, Joe Sestak."
The business group's strategy to associate Mr. Sestak with the unpopular Democratic Congress and paint him as a liberal is similar to the one employed by Mr. Toomey, whose campaign cheered Friday's news with a news release.
"There's a good reason why all of the television stations aren't buying Joe Sestak's laughable complaint," Toomey spokeswoman Nachama Soloveichik said. "It's because it simply isn't true. Over his 31/2 years in Congress, Joe Sestak has marched in lockstep with liberal Nancy Pelosi, voting for all the major elements of her left-wing agenda, from serial bailouts, to government-run health care, to a cap-and-trade energy tax, to ballooning deficits, to billions of dollars in new tax increases. No wonder Congressman Sestak doesn't want Pennsylvanians to see the ad."
First Published July 17, 2010 12:00 am