GOP keeps airing error-filled ad

Here's a screen grab from a TV ad being run by a Republican group in which inaccurate claims are made about Democratic attorney-general candidate Kathleen Kane's record as a prosecutor.
Here's a screen grab from a TV ad being run by a Republican group in which inaccurate claims are made about Democratic attorney-general candidate Kathleen Kane's record as a prosecutor.
Posted: September 25, 2012

WITH THE candidates for state attorney general little-known or noticed in this election cycle, the Republican State Leadership Committee decided to spend more than a half-million dollars to run a commercial in the Philadelphia television market defining Democrat Kathleen Kane as "soft" on rape.

But the GOP group, based in Washington, D.C., was quickly tangled in a mess of inaccuracy after citing two cases in the ad from Kane's time as an assistant district attorney in Lackawanna County. Kane, it turned out, played almost no role in those cases. The RSLC on Friday promised to edit the commercial to make it accurate.

But the original version of the ad kept running on four Philadelphia television stations Saturday and Sunday. A RSLC spokesman later said the edited version would start airing "Monday at the latest."

He did not respond when asked why the RSLC needed more than two days to edit the ad.

That prompts the question: Did the RSLC think it was more effective to stick with inaccurate claims when trying to define Kane, the front-runner in a race with plenty of undecided voters.

The RSLC spokesman also did not respond to that question.

An Inquirer poll last month found Kane leading her Republican opponent, Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed, 40 percent to 29 percent, with 31 percent undecided.

The problems with the RSLC's accuracy were quickly apparent after the ad started running Thursday.

First, the father of the rape victim in one case cited in the ad denounced it as a lie on Friday, saying that Kane was not involved in what the RSLC claimed was a "weak plea deal."

The father, in a letter released by the Kane campaign, said the RSLC and Freed "should be ashamed" of the ad.

"If they can't convince people to vote for him without lying he should not even be running," the father wrote.

Then, Lackawanna County District Attorney Andrew Jarbola issued a statement Sunday that "Kane had no role in the prosecution" of the second rape case cited in the ad. The RSLC, in the ad, claimed that Kane "went soft" on sentencing for a rapist who later assaulted other people.

RSLC President Chris Jankowski on Friday attempted a bit of political judo, saying his group would "respectfully" remove from the ad the reference to the first case after the victim's father objected. But Jankowski tried to blame Kane for the confusion, noting that she had said several times during the primary election that she had prosecuted about 3,000 cases in Lackawanna County.

"The bottom line is that Kathleen Kane once claimed credit for prosecuting this case and is now taking major steps to distance herself from it," Jankowski said. His group, when pressed, could offer no proof that Kane had ever taken credit for prosecuting that particular case.

The RSLC spokesman did not respond to requests for comment about Jarbola's statement about the second rape case.

Kane's campaign said that Freed was "nowhere to be found" while the RSLC was running the ad over the weekend.

"It's been two days since Freed's supporters said they'd withdraw this vicious, false ad, yet it's still on the air and still running on their website," Kane's campaign manager, Josh Morrow, said Sunday.

Tim Kelly, Freed's campaign manager, issued a statement Sunday evening saying that the candidates and outside groups should "conduct themselves in an honest and ethical manner." Kelly did not address calls from the rape victim's father or Kane for Freed to say that the commercial should be taken down.


Contact Chris Brennan at brennac@phillynews.com or 215-854-5973. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisBrennanDN. Read his blog at phillyclout.com.

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