A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of painting slogans on Allentown buildings in support of the city’s embattled three-term mayor, Ed Pawlowski, authorities said.
The mayor was charged on 54 criminal counts in a pay-to-pay federal corruption probe last month. Prosecutors have said he accepted more than $150,000 in campaign contributions in exchange for official acts. He has pleaded not guilty and vows to run for a fourth term as a Democrat.
John Laube of Upper Milford Township was arrested Sunday and charged with disorderly conduct and five counts of criminal mischief after the graffiti was spotted. The Allentown Morning Call reported orange flames were painted on the windows of the paper’s Sixth Street building and Miller Symphony Hall with the words, “Art happens here.”
WFMZ-TV’s studio at Allentown’s PPL center was targeted as well with the graffiti “WeWantEd Allentown.” Laube, the founder and creative director of marketing company Clickable Click, created the #WeWantEd campaign and hashtag to express support for Pawlowski.
The hashtag was also plastered on a Starbucks.
Videos posted on Facebook show a vandal in the act of painting.
The Facebook page for the #WeWantEd campaign posted a series of photos on Monday afternoon, seemingly of the front windows of Billy’s Downtown Diner in Allentown, over which the words “The Land of Innovation” were painted in elegant script, accompanied by the hashtag online.
Pawlowski, who denied any allegiance with Laube, said he did not approve of the graffiti.
“Mr. Laube is in no way, shape or form employed by me or my campaign,” Pawlowski said in an email, according to the Morning Call. “I strongly condemn and do not condone his actions in any way.”
Clickable Click is also threatening consequences for Laube’s alleged actions, although the company has supported the #WeWantEd campaign on its Facebook page and frequently shares its content. Those at the organization “are reaching out to the city to let her know that we do not approve of this sort of act,” company president President Keith Underkofler said in a statement Monday.
“The team at Clickable Click is made up of passionate artist[s] (Mr. Laube being one of them), and at times that passion can get in the way of what may be considered better judgment,” Underkofler continued. “Mr. Laube is passionate about what he believes to be the best interest of Allentown and that led him to commit this act.”