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PA GOP Says Dem PAC Ad Could Trick Republicans

Could a digital ad by a Democratic PAC be designed to trick Republican voters into not voting?

Republican Party Chairman Lawrence Tabas thinks so.  Tabas asked the Secretary of the Commonwealth, Al Schmidt, to investigate a recent ad. Tabas contends the ad weaponizes disinformation to suppress potential GOP voters from voting by mail.

“This is a serious crime, with very serious implications for our democracy,” Tabas wrote to Schmidt. “PA Values PAC executed this June 2024 ad…knowing fully that the targets of the ad may not vote at all in November, if not for the convenience of mail-in ballots.”

The ad used old clips of former President Donald Trump saying that he opposes mail-in ballots. However, Trump has changed his position and now advocates voting by mail.  At his recent rally in Philadelphia, Trump told his supporters to vote whether early, by mail, or in person.

And the Trump campaign threatened to sue the PAC over the misleading ad, which addresses  “MAGA patriots” and calls voting by mail “totally corrupt.”

A Federal Election Commission report showed the PAC spent $44,000 on a digital ad in June.

U.S. Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Pa.), a staunch Trump supporter, sent Shapiro a letter about the ad.

““Of the hundreds of thousands of views, Pennsylvania Values’ ad has likely dissuaded some not to vote by mail, or worse, to not vote at all,” Meuser said. “Damage to election integrity and confidence in the election process has been done. Governor Shapiro’s office must condemn this attempt to suppress votes to help restore voter confidence that has been eroded. Election integrity is paramount, and I believe it can be achieved in Pennsylvania. We must work in a non-partisan manner to prevent the erosion of voter confidence in election outcomes.  A strong response from Governor Shapiro and Secretary Schmidt will show Pennsylvania citizens that this administration is committed to combating election law violations, regardless of party.”

Schmidt is also head of Pennsylvania’s “Election Threat Task Force,” launched by Governor Josh Shapiro in February of this year. According to a press release on the Department of State’s website, Shapiro said:”…the Election Threats Task Force will…combat misinformation, safeguard the rights of every citizen, and ensure this [November’s] election is safe, secure, free, and fair.”

The ad ran for four days in June, before it was removed by Google for “policy violation.” However, it had already  been seen by hundreds of thousands of viewers.

The ad’s use of “our president” and “stand with Trump,” according to Tabas, was intended to trick voters into believing that the ad, and its demands, emanated from Trump or authorized representatives. He reminded Schmidt that, under Section 3527, title 25, of the Pennsylvania Code, activity intended to influence unduly or overawe voters, prevent voters from voting or restrain their freedom of choice is not just an impediment to free and fair elections, but is also a felony.

“I am bringing this matter before you and imploring you to investigate and handle the matter in the thorough and determined manner pledged by the governor, when he launched the Task Force.”

PA Values PAC Treasurer Maria Galdo could not be reached for comment.