Misleading Ads Hit Airwaves As Campaign Season Kicks Into Gear

Brian Fitzpatrick and Scott Wallace.
Credit: Tom Sofield/NewtownPANow.com

It’s clearly campaign season.

Two Republican TV and online commercials against Democratic congressional candidate Scott Wallace have been called out by his campaign for being misleading.

The first ad hit the airwaves last week and is supported by the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). In it, the ad cites a Fox News article that ties Wallace to a group that was reportedly behind a 1968 brochure calling for abortions to control populations and advocated for families to no longer have more than two children.

“Irresponsible people who have more than two children should be taxed to the hilt for the privilege of irresponsible breeding,” the brochure reportedly reads.

A fact check by news organization Billy Penn found that although the Wallace Global Fund, before Wallace was its leader, did donate more than a decade ago to the group linked to the 1968 brochure. The group – currently named Population Connection Action Fund – no longer supports the statements in the pamphlet.

“We do not advocate for increasing taxes on parents of any size family. We believe that parents should have exactly the number of children that they want,” said Brian Dixon, a spokesperson for the Population Connection Action Fund.

Wallace told reporters last week that the ad was laughable because he has three children.

The ad implies that Scott Wallace said he wants to tax families of five for “irresponsible breeding.”

However, Wallace told LevittownNow.com that the claim was untrue.

Population Connection Action Fund endorsed Wallace earlier in the campaign and said he “demonstrated commitment to international reproductive health and women’s rights.” Both items that are the main focus of the group.

“Fact checkers agree, the attacks on Scott Wallace are false, proving once again that Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick and his dark money backers will say anything to distract from his record of voting with the big donors and corporate special interests that fund his campaign,” Wallace campaign manager Eric Nagy said.

The NRCC has put money to get the ad noticed online as well as TV. By Wednesday evening, the ad was viewed on Facebook more than 16,000 times.

“We’re fully committed to holding Scott Wallace accountable for his disturbing views. Pennsylvania has never seen such an out of touch, extreme candidate for Congress,” NRCC spokesperson Chris Martin said.

Days after the controversy over the NRCC ad, which was not commissioned by the Fitzpatrick campaign, the candidate’s campaign launched a TV buy for a 30-second spot titled “Uncle Phil.”

The ad starts out with a voiceover about Fitzpatrick’s time serving with the FBI in New York City and referencing his Great Uncle Phil, an NYPD officer who died in 1947 after he was shot during an off-duty holdup of the bar where he was grabbing a bite with his partner. The ad quickly moves to a shot showing Wallace’s face and clips from a Fox 29 news story that ties him to cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

The basis of the TV news segment, which followed a Fox News report, noted the Wallace Global Fund’s nearly $3 million in support of liberal-leaning news organization Democracy Now!, but specifically mentioned coverage of Abu-Jamal, who was convicted of the murder a Philadelphia police officer in 1981.

Philly.com reported in June that the Wallace Global Fund’s donations to Democracy Now!, which covers a variety of topics, was listed on a tax filing as a way to “promote independent voices in the media.”

The ad cites three area police groups with quotes from officials that state the support for Democracy Now! “sickens me” and was “reprehensible.”

According to Democracy Now’s website, content on Abu-Jamal last appeared on their website in 2017 and only two times. In previous years, there was occasional Abu-Jamal-related articles and videos.

Eric Nagy, campaign manager for Wallace, issued a statement that said the ad was “race-baiting” and added it distracts from the issues in the First Congressional District.

Shortly after the Fitzpatrick ad was released, Wallace launched a spot featuring Bucks County Sheriff Milt Warrell, a Democrat. In the ad, Warrell cites Wallace’s work to help write the crime legislation while working in Washington D.C.

During the 2012 election between Democrat Kathy Boockvar and then-Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, the NRCC launched a campaign that tied Boockvar and her husband to Jordan Yeager to Abu-Jamal. FactCheck.org at the time said the candidate’s ties were nothing more than guilt by association.

Brian Fitpatrick’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment on the Uncle Phil commercial.

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for five years for both newspaper and online publications. In 2012, Tom was honored at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation's Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of President Obama's visit to Falls Township in 2011. When he's not covering news in the area, Tom enjoys checking out the newest restaurants and bars, exploring forgotten places of industry in the area, going to local parks and spending time with his friends and family. If there's one thing you should know about Tom, he is a local news junkie through and through. Email: tom@newtownpanow.com Phone: 215-431-1001