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PA8 Ad: Former Hazleton Police Chief Defends Cartwright Against ‘Defunding the Police’ Attack Ads

Republicans are attaching Democrats to the “defund the police” movement in attack ads for competitive districts this cycle, including the race for the 8th Congressional District. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Lackawanna) has already faced these charges from his GOP challenger, Jim Bognet, and fights back on these claims in his latest 30 second ad, with an assist from a former law enforcement official from his challenger’s hometown. 

“He’s even for defunding the police,” a voiceover says at the beginning of the 30 second spot titled, “Public Safety.” This is a clip from a previous attack ad from Bognet

“Don’t believe bogus commercials that are untrue,” says Jerry Speziale, former Hazleton Police Chief, 2016-2019. “That’s not Matt Cartwright.”

“When I needed cops and I needed funding, Matt Cartwright was there for us,” Speziale continues to say later in the ad. “That’s why we’re able to make safer cities.”

“Matt Cartwright is all about that,” Speziale said.

Bognet’s campaign shot out a press release slamming the ad that included a statement from Bognet and Dave Repchick, former Throop police officer, veteran, and co-chair of the Bognet for Congress First Responders Coalition. 

“It is beyond infuriating to see Matt Cartwright say that we should defund the police, then watch his commercial falsely attacking Jim Bognet for speaking the truth. I listened to the clip of Cartwright – when asked about defunding the police he said, ‘absolutely yes.,” the joint statement reads. 

“Shame on Cartwright for lying and shame on the former Hazleton police chief for being an accomplice in that lie,” the joint statement continues. 

The ad also features text on the screen that say, “Bognet Lied” and cites Philadelphia Inquirer analysis with Politifact that disputes the attack from the Bognet campaign that Cartwright supports defunding the police. That analysis concluded that Cartwright did not call for defunding the police, but instead “explained to a participant in a recent virtual listening session that public officials in places like Wilkes-Barre, and in Congress, have the power to decide how public funds are spent on the police, as for any other public agency.” In the same event, Cartwright said he does not support defunding the police. 

Three national ratings outlets have the race leaning in Cartwright’s favor. Inside Elections lists the race in PA8 as Likely Democratic, while Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report have it as Leans Democratic.

8 Responses

  1. I checked out the money for the Hazleton Police that Matt Cartwright’s TV ad says he got. It’s true. I do not understand why Jim Bognet would say this defunding stuff. It makes him look like he’s lying. I think he thought nobody would check this all out.

  2. I listened to the question about the Wilkes-Barre budget and the “absolutely yes.” It was not about defunding. That was dishonest.

  3. No one who has any common sense is for “defunding police.” Of course, Cartwright is against “defunding police.” Bognet put his campaign on the skids with the Portland ad as that trivialized his candidacy. It made it more of a joke. Bad move.

  4. Bognet doctored the audio to fit his desired talking points. He lacks virtue. He also hasn’t lived in PA for the past 20 years and has a pathetic voting record.

    1. The guy that didn’t even vote in 2016? Twice he voted in 22 years??? Same guy who talks about digging ditches and pouring concrete yet has been in DC longer than Matt Cartwright. That guy? The guy who attacked Purple Heart recipients in his primary? That guy? The guy who moved from DC to his parents house to run for Matt Cartwrights seat??? The guy who worked for and is friends with Mitt Romney??? That guy?

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