Super PAC dives into Philly-suburban congressional race

    A federally registered super PAC funded by Philadelphia-area labor unions is buying TV ads in support of state Rep. Brendan Boyle, a candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 13th District.

    The TV spot defends Boyle on the issue of abortion rights, the subject of an attack ad on Boyle by state Sen. Daylin Leach and a negative mailing by physician Valerie Arkoosh, both candidates in the race. The super PAC ad also repeats the populist themes of Boyle’s campaign, noting that he’s a janitor’s son and saying he’s running against “millionaire opponents.” (Not all are.)

    A statement by Wayne Miller, president of the Sprinkler Fitters Local 692, said the super PAC, called Building a Better Pa., is “an independent coalition of Philadelphia area labor unions and concerned citizens” that supports Boyle and sees income inequality at the top of its agenda.

    Federal records show the committee was registered March 11. No information is yet available on the sources of its funding or expenditures. Sources tell me the group’s TV ad buy is about $100,000 so far.

    Super PACs are the colloquial name for political committees that pledge to engage in independent expenditures only without consulting candidates they support. As long is there is no coordination, such committees can spend as much as they like in a federal election.

    Boyle’s record on abortion rights is an issue in the race for the congressional seat in Northeast Philadelphia and Montgomery County being vacated by U.S. Rep. Allyson Schwartz, who’s running for governor.

    Though he’s been praised by an anti-abortion group in the past, Boyle now says he supports Roe vs. Wade. Reproductive rights organizations have criticized his 2011 vote for a bill imposing tough restrictions on abortion providers in Pennsylvania.

    Leach said Super PACs undermine democracy. “Now we have people who can put unlimited money to political races to completely drown out average people, and we don’t know who they are,” Leach said. “They’re just citizens for a happier tomorrow or something like that.” Super PACS must eventually reveal their donors.

    The Boyle campaign released a statement saying he “does not support the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court that allows undisclosed, unlimited money to flow into campaigns from the outside. Unfortunately, these efforts are beyond our control.”

    The Super PAC ad uses video of Boyle that was posted by his campaign on You Tube several weeks ago.

    Boyle noted in his statement that Arkoosh is already the beneficiary of an independent expenditure radio campaign funded by the American Society of Anesthesiologists.

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