- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 6, 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.


THEME: Democrat Allyson Schwartz attacks Democrat Tom Wolf

TITLE: “Know”

LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: TV stations statewide starting May 2

KEY CLAIM: “Yes, Wolf ran his family business, but in order to sell it he forced it deep into debt. Wolf walked away with $20 million for himself. The result? Hundreds of employees lost their jobs.”

ANALYSIS: In 2006, Wolf moved to give up day-to-day control of his building-products business, the Wolf Organization. He and two cousins each reduced their ownership stakes from about 33 percent to 11 percent and each received a $20 million buyout, part of which was financed by a bank loan.

The company shrank in the years afterward from about 600 employees in the York area to just over 200 in 2009. In 2009, Tom Wolf bought back a controlling stake in the business and re-assumed day-to-day control, he said, in order to help the company avoid bankruptcy because it could not make payments on its debt. At the time, company officials said their moves to close and sell stores were forced by the slowdown in housing construction during the recession, which began in December 2007.


THEME: Democrat Rob McCord attacks Wolf

TITLE: “No Good Answer”

LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: TV stations in Philadelphia starting May 2

KEY CLAIM: “Why would he chair the campaign of a man arrested for his role in a race riot? One that left a black woman dead. Why would Wolf stand by a man charged with first-degree murder, an admitted racist who handed out ammunition and shouted ‘white power’?”

ANALYSIS: The ad is about Wolf’s relationship with Charlie Robertson, a 29-year veteran of the York City police force who served as the city’s mayor from 1994 to 2002. Wolf led Robertson’s re-election campaign in 2001, when Robertson was charged with murder in the 1969 death of Lillie Belle Allen, a black woman gunned down during racially charged street violence in York.

Amid news coverage of the case, Wolf was one of many civic leaders in York who signed a letter to the city’s newspapers expressing “grave concern” about their “entirely excessive as well as irresponsible” coverage of the unsolved murders.

A jury acquitted Robertson of all charges in 2002.

A police officer at the time of the riots, Robertson admitted before his arrest that he shouted “white power” at a gang rally the day before Allen’s killing. But he denied accusations that he handed out ammunition to at least one of the gunmen or that he incited whites to racial violence. In an interview with The Associated Press last week, Robertson, 80, said, “I was never a racist.”

Robertson won the 2001 Democratic primary with Wolf serving as his campaign chairman. Two days later, Robertson was charged with murder, prompting him to end his re-election campaign. According to the Wolf campaign, Wolf and other community leaders asked Robertson to step down and end his campaign after the charges were filed.


THEME: Republican Gov. Tom Corbett touts his education record

TITLE: “Best Chance for Success”

LENGTH: 60 seconds

AIRING: TV stations statewide starting April 14

KEY CLAIM: Corbett’s wife, Susan, says her husband “increased spending in the Education Department $1.5 billion over what it was when he came into office.”

ANALYSIS: The Corbett campaign is basing its claim on administration figures from the state Department of Education showing year-over-year “public school support.”

The $1.5 billion figure includes about $730 million in legally mandated increases in pension fund contributions the state was required to make under a 2010 law designed to address underfunding of the system.

The figure also includes $370 million in spending that the Legislature hasn’t approved yet, including $240 million in grants and an additional $105 million in higher pension fund contributions.

Corbett’s spending comparison uses a figure for 2010-11, the year he took office, that did not include $1 billion in federal recession aid or $220 million in special aid to districts to compensate them for tuition they were paying for students to attend charter schools.


THEME: Corbett attacks Wolf

TITLE: “Toy Story”

LENGTH: 30 seconds

AIRING: TV stations statewide starting May 2

KEY CLAIM: “While Wolf served in Harrisburg as the state’s top tax collector, our taxes went through the roof. And higher taxes led to 152,000 PA workers losing their jobs and unemployment going up almost 50 percent. … Corbett lowered taxes, creating 150,000 new jobs and PA’s unemployment rate dramatically fell.”

ANALYSIS: The ad targets Wolf’s service as revenue secretary in 2007 and 2008 under former Gov. Ed Rendell, who appointed him to the post. As revenue secretary, Wolf’s job was to administer the state’s tax laws, oversee tax collection and run the Pennsylvania Lottery.

No broad-based state tax increases occurred in 2007 or 2008, although Wolf joined the Rendell administration in advocating, unsuccessfully, for raising the sales tax and imposing a new tax on major oil companies’ gross profits.

The ad tries to tie Wolf to job losses and rising unemployment during his tenure, but both occurred in every state amid the national recession.

As to Corbett’s actions on taxes, the governor signed various pieces of legislation lowering business taxes. But in November, he also signed a transportation funding law that is resulting in higher taxes on fuel and higher fees and fines on motorists.

On Corbett’s claim his policies created 150,000 new jobs, economists say the drop in unemployment reflects national economic trends - every state has seen unemployment decline as part of the recession’s recovery, regardless of tax policy - and that governors tend to have little or no effect on short-term employment trends.

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