- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A look at key claims being made in TV ads that are being aired in Pennsylvania by candidates for governor ahead of the May 20 primary.

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THEME: Democrat Rob McCord attacks Democrat Tom Wolf

TITLE: “Break”


LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: TV stations statewide starting May 7

KEY CLAIM: “Wolf admits his company terminated its pension plan. Corbett’s proposed doing the same thing to the state pension fund. There’s more. A state pension investment fund lost $19 million in Wolf’s company. The biggest loser? Our state retirement fund.”

ANALYSIS: McCord’s ad refers to a statement made by Wolf during a May 1 debate. McCord asked Wolf whether his company, York-based building products supplier the Wolf Organization, has a traditional pension retirement plan or a 401(k) retirement plan. Wolf said, “we actually have both. … We actually have a defined benefit plan that has been terminated, but it’s still in place. The employees - this is after I sold the business and left - decided to move to a 401(k), so we have both.” In 2006, Wolf moved to give up day-to-day control of the Wolf Organization. He and two cousins each reduced their ownership stakes. Wolf returned to day-to-day control in 2009 in order, he said, to help the company avoid bankruptcy amid the recession’s effects.

McCord is likening Wolf to Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in the debate over whether to shift future public employees into a 401(k)-style investment plan for retirement and end the state’s traditional pension plan for them. The issue is a core concern for public sector labor unions.

Wolf has told The Associated Press that he would maintain a traditional pension plan for public employees and would oppose switching the system to a 401(k)-style plan. However, his campaign declined to tell AP whether he would support or oppose reductions in pension benefits for future public employees.

On the point about the state pension investment, Pennsylvania’s State Employees Retirement System is an indirect investor in Wolf’s company through the system’s $50 million stake in the $1 billion Weston Presidio V, a buyout fund.

Weston Presidio invested $41 million in the Wolf Organization starting in 2006. The value of that investment was placed at just under $23 million in a 2013 year-end report by Weston Presidio to its investors.