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Gloves Off in Argall/Rich Race (With Videos)

Dave Argall has a legitimate opponent in Brian Rich, an energy company executive challenging the state Senator in the GOP primary. The campaign has taken a turn for the nasty; PoliticsPA takes a look at ads and the charges being made.

The 29th district Senate primary is one of PoliticsPA’s top 10 most interesting state House and Senate primaries, and it’s easy to see why. By the time it’s over, at least $750,000 and possibly more than a million will likely be spent by both sides.

As it stands now, Argall (R-Schuylkill) is out-spending Rich by a 3-1 margin, Rich’s campaign says, with $270,000 on TV and 11 mail pieces so far. The key questions are, how much will the Senate GOP campaign committee spend to protect Argall, and how much of Rich’s own personal wealth will he put into the campaign.

Meanwhile, Rich is hammering Argall over his votes in favor of the midnight pay raise in 2005, and pension increase in 2001 among other votes (see the video below). That ad sticks to votes in the legislature.

The campaigns are also duking it out over the content of the paid media – specifically Argall’s attacks on Rich. Here are the claims one by one, with PoliticsPA’s verdict.

Rich donated to Philly Dems (TV ad, several mailers): True. The Rich campaign doesn’t contest that Rich contributed $18,000 to Ed Rendell for Mayor, Vince Fumo for Senate and John Street for Mayor (he has also contributed thousands to Republican candidates). They say it’s because those three helped to facilitate projects in the city with which Rich was involved.

Rich’s company got $147 million in taxpayer commitments (Argall mailer): Half true. A company owned by Rich’s brother (Ultra Clean Fuels), but for which Rich himself was an executive, received a loan guarantee of $100 million for a facility to convert coal waste to fuel. The project also earned a $47 million tax credit for anticipated job creation (through a program Rich’s campaign says Argall supported). However, Rich himself didn’t lobby for the money as the Argall mailers suggest (his brother did), and the project never got off the ground thus no money changed hands.

Rich took $5 Million in stimulus funds (Argall mailer): False. Rich’s campaign, the Broad Mountain Wind Energy Center, applied for a $5 million stimulus grant. But they withdrew their application before any money changed hands. The Argall campaign further suggests that there is a correlation between Rich’s contributions to Democrats and his stimulus application, but do not provide evidence of a connection.

Rich’s companies accused of misdeeds (Argall mailers): True. Two recent mail pieces cite the plaintiffs’ filings in two lawsuits against companies owned by Rich which were accused of misdeeds. One plaintiff was shown to be in the wrong and forced to pay $1 million in punitive damages to Rich; another is a wrongful death suit filed by the family of a man who broke into a Rich company facility and electrocuted himself in the act of theft. In both cases, the plaintiffs did allege what Argall’s campaign said. However, those allegations themselves were shown false in one case, and are still pending in the second.

Finally, Rich’s brother John is suing the Argall campaign, alleging that its TV ad is hurting the cause of their waste coal project. Verdict: false. By calling it a “failure,” John Rich says, the campaign is making it more difficult to secure additional private funding. But the project’s status is subjective. One could just as easily argue that the revoked loan guarantees did constitute a failure. Furthermore, contrary to what is alleged by Rich’s lawsuit, neither the television ad nor Argall mailers state that Ultra Clean Fuels received money – rather that they received commitments.

Update: We failed to mention earlier, but John Rich’s company is also paying to air a response ad which dings Argall on the same charges as his lawsuit. It repeats the mischaracterization about Argall’s statements regarding the $147 million. Argall has filed a complaint over the ad, alleging it violates campaign rules.

And one bonus note. In a tactic that reminded this writer of the Bain Capital attacks on Mitt Romney by fellow Republicans, Argall is directly targeting Rich’s riches. His TV ad shows images of a limousine, a yacht, and floating green dollar signs, and one of his mailers refers to Rich as “Wealthy State Senate Candidate Brian Rich.”

Here is Rich’s anti-Argall ad:

6 Responses

  1. You got a lot of balls talking about anyone who voted for fat Eddy Spendell’s budgets! I can identify at least $25,000 of your dollars that went to puppets in the house and senate who directly or indirectly voted for his budgets. Don’t make me post the facts on you! You are as much to blame for the direction this Commonwealth is headed as anyone else! Confucius says “he who talsks crap has bad breath” so don’t think I’m being rude by offering you a mint!

  2. The Tamaqua Property subsidy could use some attention.

    “A nonprofit, economic development group founded by state Sen. David Argall (R-Schuylkill) and funded primarily with tax dollars, purchased a downtown property for $196,000 last year and sold it to a recent board member of the organization eleven weeks later for $110,000.”

  3. Disappointingly, the alleged fiscal conservative Senator Dave Argall voted “YEA” for seven of eight of Governor Ed Rendell’s Bankrupting Budgets.

    With his “YEA” vote for Capital Budget Act 130 of 2011, Senator Dave Argall added $1.6 billion dollars in debt to Pennsylvania’s Forgotten Taxpayer’s financial burden and, simultaneously, voted millions for billionaire corporations: Comcast, Janney, Teva Pharmaceuticals, ShopRite, Franklin Mint and $850,000 to Philadelphia Democrat Chaka Fattah’s Philadelphia House of Imoja and $1,970,000 to Philadelphia University‐Arlen Specter Library and $10,000,000 John P. Murtha Center for Public Policy Cambria

    Contrary to Senator Dave Argall’s opportunistic rhetoric, the reality of the record is that Senator Dave Argall is NOT The Forgotten Taxpayer’s BFF.


    Act 130 Comcast, Janney Investments, Teva Pharmaceuticals, ShopRite, Franklin Mint

    ACT 130 $850,000 to Chaka Fattah’s House of Imoja

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