Attack ads underway in Bucks congressional race

Democratic candidate Scott Wallace (left) and Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick will face off in November. Attack ads have already begun. (Youtube)

Democratic candidate Scott Wallace (left) and Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick will face off in November. Attack ads have already begun. (Youtube)

More than four months before Election Day, accusations are flying in the Bucks County congressional battle as national Republican organizations target Democratic candidate Scott Wallace.

Wallace, a wealthy progressive philanthropist who’s challenging one-term incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, is accused of associating with anti-Semites, a cop-killer, and accused terrorists imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay.

Wallace’s campaign said there’s nothing to any of it, and the charges show that Republicans are worried about the losing the 1st Congressional District in a year when several other Pennsylvania seats could flip from red to blue.

Television broadside

“You have to wonder about Scott Wallace … donating $300,000 to anti-Semitic organizations that promote boycotting Israel,” says the announcer in an attack ad now airing by the Republican Jewish Coalition.

The charge stems from an article in the publication The Forward.

The donations cited are from the Wallace Global Fund, a progressive trust run by members of the Wallace family for years. The grants were to groups and a publishing company associated with the effort to convince people and institutions to boycott and divest from Israel, the “BDS” movement (for Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions).

Wallace, who said he’s an avid supporter of Israel, said he explicitly opposes BDS. Responding to the claim, he said the donations cited in the article were made by another member of the Wallace Global Fund from an account the member exclusively controlled.

The Wallace campaign declined to name the board member, but other members of Wallace’s extended family have served on the fund.

The Wallace campaign is running an ad in response to the attack saying he’s “a strong supporter of Israel,” and saying he’s under attack from special interests determined to re-elect Fitzpatrick.

A notorious figure

Another charge, aired in web and TV stories by Fox News, is that Wallace bankrolled an organization that “gave a platform at least 20 times” to Mumia Abu Jamal, convicted of killing Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner in 1982.

The Wallace Global Fund has supported “Democracy Now!”

The daily syndicated television news show with a progressive bent has done stories about Abu Jamal and aired interviews with him.

“This is a baseless, connect-the-dots smear,” said Wallace campaign communications director Zoe Wilson Meyer. “It’s absurd to connect Scott Wallace to criminals and consider him personally responsible for the content of this news organization.”

She said the attack is the work of “a professional propaganda machine” and an attack on the free press.

Fox News also reported that the Wallace Global Fund supported the Center for Constitutional Rights’ efforts to represent detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

Wilson Meyer said Wallace “supports the the bedrock principle of the right to due process.”

Opposition research

It’s common practice in congressional campaigns for national parties to develop opposition research and share it with journalists and other parties to discredit opponents.

The Republican National Congressional Committee, which supports GOP candidates, has touted the stories done by Fox News and others in press releases as “bombshell,” “devastating,” and “shocking” revelations about Wallace.

Chris Martin, a regional spokesman for the RNCC, declined to say when I asked whether the committee supplied the information used in any of the attacks on Wallace. But he didn’t deny the group is developing this kind of material.

“We are very active in highlighting Scott Wallace’s record, and we will continue do so,” he said.

Both Aiden Pink, the author of the story about Wallace in The Forward, and Matt Brooks, executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, which aired the ad, said in interviews their efforts were not based on RNCC research.

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