Outside group airs misleading ad in Pa.’s 6th Congressional District race

    A TV ad in the November race for Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District seat states that Republican candidate Ryan Costello, who chairs the Chester County Board of Commissioners, has “held the line on taxes.”

    In fact, that isn’t quite true.

    The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is responsible for the 30-second ad that started airing last week. In it, a narrator says of Costello, “He balanced budgets and cut wasteful spending. He held the line on taxes. Costello’s the only one who’ll put the brakes on a tax-and-spend White House.”

    Costello did, however, vote to raise property taxes 5 percent in 2012. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, he stated at the time that Chester County “still has one of the lowest tax rates” in the area even with the tax hike.

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    “It’s outside spending and not only is it bad for our democracy, but it’s also a lie,” said Manan Trivedi, Costello’s Democratic opponent and a physician. “I think their strategy is clear, is to spend a lot and then lie even more.”

    Pete Peterson, a spokesman for the Costello campaign, acknowledged that Costello voted to raise taxes in 2012, in part to help pay to revamp the county’s emergency radio system. He declined to comment further about the ad, noting “it is an independent expenditure by another group supporting Ryan Costello.”

    Sally-Shannon Birkel, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, defended the spot, saying it refers to the county’s 2014 budget.

    Costello missed the vote for the 2014 budget due to an “unexpected personal issue,” the Daily Local News reported, but expressed support for the plan.

    “The chamber’s ad states that Costello held the line on taxes when he supported the 2014 budget of the County of Chester,” said Birkel. “It is very clear that Costello supported this budget and that the budget did not increase tax rates.”

    It’s true there were no tax increases in that budget, but the ad’s narrator never specifically refers to a year. The ad’s only mention of 2013, the year the board of commissioners passed the 2014 budget, is in a written citation in small font.

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