The Campaign Spot

Mark Critz Gets It Wrong Again

In his latest ad – again, a defensive one – Democrat Mark Critz contends that an earlier ad from Tim Burns is “attacking John Murtha’s memory.” He shows a split-second of the ad, featuring the “Office of Congressional Ethics.”

Actually, Mr. Critz, you were under investigation by the House Ethics Committee. Back in 2002, when you were just a staffer.

As I wrote in mid-March:

As they were with Murtha himself, complaints to the House Ethics Committee about Critz are an old and familiar occurrence. In 2002, redistricting put Murtha up against another Democrat, Rep. Frank Mascara. Mascara contended that on several occasions, Murtha and Critz had performed official duties outside their own district. On April 6, 2002, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that Mascara had filed a complaint with the ethics panel after Critz handed out Murtha’s biography and business card at a Waynesboro event; Critz’s actions, he contended, constituted “using government grants to campaign.”

Murtha’s defense may have been more troubling than the Mascara complaint itself. Murtha explained that Critz spent half of his time on the government payroll and half of his time on the campaign payroll. While many congressional staffers voluntarily (and sometimes involuntarily) use vacation time to do unpaid work for their bosses’ campaigns, an arrangement in which a staffer splits his time between government work, which is not supposed to be partisan, and campaign work, which obviously is, is ethically problematic, even if it isn’t strictly illegal.

Critz’s ad is flat-out wrong, but this wouldn’t be the first time. He apologized for misstating Burns’s views on taxes.

Also note that in his new ad, Mark Critz claims Tim Burns “outsourced jobs overseas.” When was this? The closest thing to a justification is that Burns’s company “deferred taxes on income earned overseas”; this is actually referring to NDCHealth Corp., the company Burns worked at for six months after it purchased his start-up, TechRx. But the Critz camp never points to any actual jobs being moved from the U.S. to overseas. Did NDCHealth Corp. move any jobs overseas during that period?

Elswhere, the Critz camp insists that when Burns sold his company, jobs were lost. But that is disputed; Burns “insists the purchaser expanded operations at the industrial park outside Pittsburgh International Airport, though he ducks the issue of whether any jobs were lost in the shift.”

Really? Critz is claiming Burns “outsourced jobs overseas” because the sale of his company may have seen some jobs lost in the transition? Shoddy, even by Critz’s standards.