Okay, crazy time is here.
If you’re running a competitive political campaign, there comes a point in the closing days of the race, when you realize that this is, or could be really close, and any little thing could make the 100-vote difference, and somebody is putting out some scurrilous crap that could cost you this thing, which by the way you’ve been working 18 hours a day on for so long you don’t remember what clean laundry even looks like, and you’ll be damned if you’re going to let them get away with it and….lord only knows what will follow.
In the Northeast Philadelphia City Council race, incumbent Brian O’Neill’s campaign has filed complaints with the city board of elections, the city board of ethics and the District Attorney’s office about mailings that have reached voters touting the candidacy of his Democratic opponent, Bill Rubin.
You can read the O’Neill campaign’s complaint by clicking here.
O’Neill’s folks are steamed because the mailer doesn’t say who paid for it – a violation of the state election code – AND because the mailer has the wrong hours for voting on November 8th. As you can see above, it says that polls open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m..
In fact, polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. The O’Neill campaign says the mailer is going to Republicans who would likely vote for their guy, making it look like a deliberate effort to mislead voters.
While the mailing doesn’t have the required statement of sponsorship, it does contain a return address – AFSCME PEOPLE, from an address on I Street in Washington, D.C.
Rubin was for years an official in ASFSCME District Council 33, which represents city blue collar workers. AFSCME PEOPLE is a political committee of the union.
Rubin’s campaign manager Dave Mellet told me his campaign had nothing to do with the mailer, and the O’Neill campaign should know it
“If the O’Neill campaign were intelligent enough to read the campaign finance laws, they’d know we’re only allowed to control our own committee,” Mellet said.
I asked Mellet if he would complain if somebody were sending pro-O’Neill mailings to Democrats including the wrong polling place hours.
“I wouldn’t be complaining to the O’Neill campaign about it,” he said.
The O’Neill campaign’s release about the flier also charges that “the City Commissioners’ legal counsel, Fred Voigt, yelled and cursed at an O’Neill campaign staffer who hand-delivered the complaint to the office today.”
Old Philadelphia hands will remember Voigt as former executive secretary of the election watchdog group, the Committee of Seventy.
When I got Voigt on the phone, he admitted using some strong language with the O’Neill staffer, but only after the staffer, whom he called “a punk,” more or less asked for it.
Voigt said he explained that the commissioners had neither the staff to investigate the complaint nor the authority to do anything about it. He suggested the campaign aide go to the DA’s office, but the young man kept pushing the complaint on him.
“If you’re serious abut your complaint, pursue it seriously,” Voigt said. “If you’re going to do it like a kid, you’ll be treated like a kid.”
Cheryl Kelly, a spokeswoman for AFSCME in Washington, said she would look into the mailing and get back to me. I’ll keep you apprised.