2 Pa. TV stations pulling anti-Sestak Senate ad

By Marc Levy
Associated Press Writer / July 15, 2010

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HARRISBURG, Pa.—Two Pittsburgh-area television stations are pulling a commercial attacking Democratic policies and the voting record of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Joe Sestak after he complained about its accuracy.

An e-mail message to the Sestak campaign from sister stations WPGH and WPMY said the ad will be discontinued. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported on it Thursday.

Sestak, a second-term congressman from the Philadelphia suburbs, had complained in a letter to WPGH, WPMY and 14 other TV stations that were airing the ad sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

The ad, which began airing Monday, says Sestak voted with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "100 percent of the time," "for a government takeover of health care" and "billions in job killing energy taxes."

Sestak calls all three statements false.

Meanwhile, Sestak is also contesting the assertions in another third-party ad being run in the Philadelphia area by a newly formed group, the Washington, D.C.-based Emergency Committee for Israel. The ad, which questions Sestak's support for Israel and claims he raised money for a Hamas front group, is wrong, he said.

A spokesman for the group said the ad continues to run despite the Sestak campaign's efforts to get cable operator Comcast to take it down. Comcast did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment Thursday.

Sestak spoke to a Council on American-Islamic Relations banquet in Philadelphia in 2007, accompanied by Gov. Ed Rendell -- who is Jewish -- and in defiance of some Jewish leaders.

He said the council is not a Hamas front group, but also said he told the Muslim group that its members must condemn those who commit acts of terrorism. Sestak, a former Navy admiral, insisted he has a duty as a congressman to reach out to all types of groups and pointed to his work in Congress and the military to strengthen Israel's security, he said.

"I would have put my life on the line any day gladly for Israel, as I did for America," Sestak said Thursday.

Sestak is in a competitive race with Republican Pat Toomey for an open Senate seat. Both of the third-party ads are expected to be the first of many in the remaining months before the Nov. 2 election.

In the message to the Sestak campaign, WPGH and WPMY said the chamber ad is being pulled because its claim that Sestak voted with Pelosi 100 percent of the time is untrue, campaign spokesman Jonathon Dworkin said. An executive at the stations declined comment Thursday.

A chamber spokesman, J.P. Fielder, on Thursday said the group stands behind the ad and that his group is trying to change the stations' mind.

Toomey, a former congressman from eastern Pennsylvania, acknowledged that a couple of Sestak's votes this year clashed with Pelosi's, but he said Sestak's record was identical to hers in 2009 and that Sestak supports the broad Democratic agenda.

Last month, Sestak opposed an amendment that exempts the National Rifle Association and certain other lobbying groups from some of the disclosure requirements in a bill that places new limitations on interest groups' political activity. Pelosi supported the amendment, although both Pelosi and Sestak voted for the bill when it passed the House, Sestak said.

In addition, Sestak said independent studies by Yale University, the University of California and the University of Illinois of the so-called "cap-and-trade" pollution-reduction bill he supported in the House show the measure would result in the net creation of jobs.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration's health care legislation passed by Congress earlier this year "built on and improved private insurance markets," his campaign said. top stories on Twitter

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