Democratic, Republican Leaders Trade Barbs in Senate Race
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race has focused on jobs and health care but now has some legal issues, too.
Democratic and Republican officials on Thursday accused the other party’s candidate of misconduct.
U.S. Sen. Harris Wofford, the Democratic candidate, is allegedly manipulating federal campaign laws so he can raise additional money in the final weeks of the election, said Republican State Committee Chairman Anne Anstine.
Republican candidate Dick Thornburgh allegedly violated an attorney ethics code by negotiating his return to the Pittsburgh law firm of Kirkpatrick & Lockhart before he formally resigned as U.S. attorney general, according to J. William Lincoln, the state Democratic chairman.
Lincoln said he could not support his charges with evidence.
Both camps denied their opponent’s allegations and said they were campaign stunts.
″Dick Thornburgh never negotiated with his law firm until after he submitted his resignation,″ said Dan Eramian, Thornburgh’s press secretary.
″It’s absurd. It’s an absurd charge,″ Wofford said of the allegations against his campaign. The senator was at the Pittsburgh Hilton and Towers, where he accepted the endorsement of the Pennsylvania State Council of Senior Citizens.
Ms. Anstine told reporters the committee ″filed criminal charges″ against Wofford. In fact, the committee sent a letter to U.S. Attorney Thomas W. Corbett Jr. requesting an investigation of Wofford’s fund raising.
Corbett, whose wife is a member of the state Republican committee, said he recused himself from the matter and would refer it to the Justice Department’s public integrity section in Washington.
Ms. Anstine accused Wofford’s campaign of violating federal election laws that allow individual contributions of no more than $1,000 in each of the primary and general elections.
Wofford got his party’s nomination in June but has used Aug. 31, the cutoff date for the primary campaign, as the nomination date. That allowed him to consider all contributions prior to that as primary election contributions. He can tap the same people for another $1,000 in the final weeks of the campaign and list it as contributions for the general election.
Wofford said Thursday he has not broken election laws, but the GOP said he may have received about $235,000 by circumventing the laws.
″That’s 10 days of television in this state,″ state GOP Executive Director Tom Druce said. ″That can influence an election.″
The state GOP previously asked the Federal Election Commission to investigate, but Ms. Anstine said they believed a Justice Department investigation would be faster. She said she wants it completed before the Nov. 5 election.
Lincoln’s letter to the state Supreme Court requests an investigation of Thornburgh’s deal with Kirkpatrick & Lockhart. The letter states Thornburgh probably negotiated his return to the law firm before resigning. Lincoln wrote that it would be a conflict of interest since Kirkpatrick & Lockhart clients have dealings with the Justice Department.
Lincoln did not immediately return a phone call Thursday.
Thornburgh recused himself from all matters involving Kirkpatrick & Lockhart while attorney general, Eramian said.
The Supreme Court’s disciplinary board reviews activity of attorneys.