Published: Friday, April 7, 2006
Wilson campaign says Republican TV ad is false
The commercial says the sewage dumping led to an FBI investigation.
The congressional campaign of state Sen. Charlie Wilson says a Republican commercial critical of the candidate should be taken off the air because it's factually incorrect.
The National Republican Congressional Committee began airing a commercial Wednesday that targets Wilson's tenure on the Eastern Ohio Regional Wastewater Authority.
With Wilson on the board, the authority dumped raw sewage into the Ohio River.
The NRCC aired a commercial about the same issue last week.
But the new commercial says the sewage dumping led to "an FBI investigation."
The Wilson campaign provided The Vindicator with a copy of a letter Thursday from Michael E. Brocks, the FBI's chief division counsel of its Cincinnati office, stating a review "failed to disclose any record of an FBI investigation concerning" the EORWA.
"We expected negative ads from Republicans in Washington, but they crossed the line this time," said Jason Burke, Wilson's campaign manager. "This is a desperate and pathetic attempt to affect the Democratic primary."
Wilson, of St. Clairsville, is a write-in candidate for the May 2 Democratic primary. He faces two candidates whose names will appear on the ballot. This is one of the most high-profile congressional races in the country.
Ed Patru, NRCC spokesman, said the commercial is "100 percent accurate. We wouldn't have made it if that wasn't the case."
The commercials began airing Wednesday on TV stations in Youngstown and Wheeling, W.Va. Those stations reach voters in Mahoning, Columbiana, Jefferson and Belmont counties, where a majority of the 6th Congressional District voters live.
The two TV stations in Wheeling temporarily stopped running the NRCC commercial Thursday and are reviewing its content, Burke said.
Youngstown TV stations are reviewing the commercials, Burke said. But as of late Thursday, the NRCC commercial was still airing in Youngstown.
Also in ad
The NRCC ad says the sewage dumping led to "a massive fine." The commercial also states there was "an attempted cover-up to save his career [that included] firing the plant supervisor who refused Wilson's orders and exposed the dumping."
In January 1997, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the attorney general's office reached an agreement with the authority requiring it to pay $539,984 to a sewer improvement fund to upgrade the system, according to a Dayton Daily News story published at the time. The newspaper also wrote that the agency had to pay a $231,421 civil penalty to the EPA for past violations.
As for firing the plant supervisor, records show Wilson abstained from a board vote on that decision.