York County candidate plans to file complaint for attack ads

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It is one day away from the primary elections in Pennsylvania. As campaigns are winding down, a controversy is brewing. A candidate for the State House of Representatives 169th District says a Pennsylvania organization has deployed attack ads against him that are illegal.

We have all seen them: negative ads sent out during a campaign season. “185% of debt, I have no idea where they are getting that number from. In my opinion that is an absolute falsehood,” said Marc Woerner (R) Candidate for the 169th District. “It’s fraudulent, there should be some campaign filing information, registration with the Department of State or something,” said Woerner.

The ads went out last week attacking the Republican who is involved in a four-way race, all are vying for the State House of Representatives seat in the newly formed 169th District in York County.

The ads say they originate from the group: “Pa Taxpayers for Integrity.”

FOX43 checked with the Department of State to see if the group is registered. “We have no record of this group of a political action group here in Pennsylvania,” said Press Secretary of the Department of State Ron Ruman. Something that is required under the Campaign Finance Law. “Any candidate, or candidate’s committee, or political action committee, that is spending money to influence the outcome of an election, they are by law required by law to register here in Pennsylvania with the Department of State, and file campaign finance reports, so that people can see who is contributing to them and how they are spending their money,” said Ruman.

“These shadow organizations, that’s what I call them, because how do you fight a shadow? They come out at the last-minute to keep you from responding, to allow you a reasonable amount of time to be able to get your information out and get the truth out,” said Woerner.

What now?
Ruman said a complaint can be filed with the Department of State alleging a violation of the Campaign Financing Law. “Our folks in the Bureau of Elections would look at that, if they think that there is merit to it, we would turn it over to the appropriate legal authority, which typically would be a District Attorney, if it was a race that was limited to one county, or it might be the State Attorney General if it was involving statewide races,” said Ruman.

It is typically a civil penalty, although sometimes it can be criminal depending on the activity.

Woerner said he plans to file a complaint.
Comment from York County Commissioner Chris Reilly:
“I am outraged by the negative and unwarranted attacks on Mr. Woerner. He has served his community admirably and I am now endorsing Marc Woerner. I usually don’t endorse candidates in primaries, but in light of this I am endorsing Marc, and I hope that folks in his district will see through this,” said York County Commissioner Chris Reilly. “We saw it in the Scott Wagner race and now again. I hope voters can see that we are not going to tolerate this type of negative politicking.”