Pittsburgh mayor behind ads attacking candidate

May 1, 2013

PITTSBURGH (AP) – The city’s lame-duck mayor is behind a TV ad attacking one of the leading candidates running to replace him.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is listed as chairman of the Committee for a Better Pittsburgh, according to Federal Communications Commission disclosure documents filed by KDKA-TV, which was paid to run the ad.

The ad, which began Monday, accuses City Councilman Bill Peduto of voting for what benefits the neighborhoods he represents at the expense of poorer city neighborhoods.

“We need a mayor for all of Pittsburgh, not just Peduto’s neighborhood,” the ad says.

Ravenstahl didn’t return requests for comment, but mentioned the ads on his Facebook page and in an online comment when the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported the origin of the ads on its website Tuesday evening.

“Truth is no one is hiding anything, nor has attempted to. I have personally been the Chairman of the committee since its inception,” Ravenstahl wrote. As to the ad, “It’s 100 percent factual and begins to expose the real Bill Peduto. Future ads will do the same,” the mayor wrote.

Peduto and Jack Wagner, the former state auditor general and one-time city council president, are considered the front runners in the May 21 Democratic primary. State Rep. Jake Wheatley and political newcomer and activist A. J. Richardson are also running as Democrats.

Peduto’s campaign contends Wagner is behind the ads, though he’s not listed in the FCC documents as being a part of Ravenstahl’s political action committee.

“There is a lot of carry over between Ravenstahl’s camp and Wagner’s camp. If Ravenstahl is involved in deceptive advertising practices against us, Wagner is involved, too,” Peduto spokeswoman Sonya Toler said.

“I have not seen it,” Wagner said before a candidate’s forum on Tuesday. “I don’t know who created it.”

Wagner spokesman J.J. Abbott called the Peduto camp’s response a “desperate attempt” to bootstrap Wagner to Peduto’s “seven-year battle” with Ravenstahl.

The Democratic primary winner is likely to be the next mayor because city voters haven’t elected a Republican mayor since the Great Depression and the lone Republican candidate, Josh Wander, is relatively inexperienced.

Ravenstahl announced in March that he wouldn’t run for re-election because some of the scrutiny he faces has affected his personal life and family. Ravenstahl, now 33, became the youngest mayor of a major U.S. city when he was council president and Mayor Bob O’Connor died in office in 2006. Ravenstahl won a special election in 2007 to finish O’Connor’s term – after Peduto aborted his challenge – and then won a full four-year term in 2009.

In announcing he wouldn’t run, Ravenstahl said he planned to support another candidate – a hefty promise given that the mayor had amassed about $1 million in unused campaign funds – but wouldn’t say who. Ravenstahl did say, however, that he would not endorse Peduto or City Controller Michael Lamb, who has since dropped out of the race.

The FCC documents show the committee paid $53,000 to air the ads by SRCP Media of Alexandria, Va. The media firm created the 2004 presidential ads on behalf of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group that alleged then-Democrat Sen. John Kerry had exaggerated his Vietnam war record.



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