GOP group hits Pennsylvania Dem over foundation donations

GOP group hits Pennsylvania Dem over foundation donations
© Greg Nash

A Republican group supporting Rep. Brian FitzpatrickBrian K. FitzpatrickSinema, Fitzpatrick call for long-term extension of Violence Against Women Act Dems seek to rebuild blue wall in Rust Belt contests Congress prepares to punt biggest political battles until after midterms MORE (R-Pa.) is dropping more than $120,000 in digital ads and mail pieces targeting his opponent, Democrat Scott Wallace, over potentially controversial donations made by his family foundation.

Defending Main Street, a political group that backs members of the Republican Main Street Partnership, will drop three mail pieces this week that highlight recent reports related to Wallace’s family foundation.

Republicans are trying to frame the Wallace Global Fund as donating to those with extreme positions, coalescing around the attacks to try to tar the Democratic candidate early. Democrats and Wallace have furiously denied the accusations and say the donations are being highlighted without proper context.

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One of the new Defending Main Street mailers points to the foundation’s donation to groups that support boycotting Israeli goods — a movement called Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS). Another accuses Wallace’s foundation of donating to a “far left organization that promotes” a man in jail for killing a Philadelphia police officer. 

Sarah Chamberlain, the president of Defending Main Street, criticized Wallace in a statement released with the advertisements by accusing him of trying to buy his congressional seat. Wallace loaned his campaign $2.5 million during the primary, which made up the vast majority of his fundraising.

“Bucks County families deserve better than an out-of-touch millionaire who only recently moved to the district to spend his fortune in an attempt to buy his way into Washington,” Chamberlain said.

The accusations about Israel stem from a report in the Forward, a news outlet aimed at American Jews, detailing how the Fund gave more than $300,000 to groups that supported the BDS movement. The Republican Jewish Coalition dropped a half-million dollars last month to run an ad blasting Wallace for those donations.

Initially, a local Jewish group balked at endorsing Wallace over concerns stemming from the report, but the group eventually backed him last week. In the Forward report, Wallace’s campaign manager argued that Wallace had no control over those specific grants and that he both “strongly supports the state of Israel [and] unequivocally disavows the BDS movement.”

The other mailer is in reference to a donation Wallace’s foundation gave to Democracy Now, a liberal journalism project that published interviews with Mumia Abu-Jamal, who was jailed for killing a Philadelphia police officer. In response to Fox News, which published a story detailing the link, Wallace’s campaign spokeswoman blasted the attack as a “baseless and absurd smear.”

Wallace’s campaign criticized the attacks in its first campaign ad of the general election, where it blasts the ads from “special interests” and calls Fitzpatrick “in the pocket of Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGrassley: Dems 'withheld information' on new Kavanaugh allegation Health advocates decry funding transfer over migrant children Groups plan mass walkout in support of Kavanaugh accuser MORE, Big Oil, Big Insurance, and the NRA.”

On paper, the suburban Philadelphia district represents one of the Democratic Party’s best chances at winning back a GOP-held seat, as it has improved its support among the suburban voters who make up most of the district.

But pointing in part to the onslaught of attacks by Republicans, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report moved its rating of the race from a “toss-up” to a “lean Republican” last week.