I received the following release from the Lou Barletta For Congress Communications Coordinator Shawn Kelly.
Once again, the Kanjorski campaign is stretching the facts in a desperate bid to stay in power.
Kanjorski spokesman Ed Mitchell lied to you about the City of Hazleton’s pension fund. Mitchell said Tuesday: "Other cities have pension problems, but like the jobless rate, Hazleton's is the worst.”
Here’s what the Scranton Times published today:
“Scranton, compared to cities of similar size, has one of the most poorly funded pension plans in the state, the report states, while 55 percent of pension systems in the region are in some form of distressed status. … Scranton has $64.3 million in its pension fund, but obligations of twice that, $138 million, for a funding ratio of 47 percent. Any funding ratio under 50 percent is deemed severely distressed by the Public Employee Retirement Commission.” (“State: 55 percent of NEPA municipal pensions distressed,” Scranton Times, July 28, 2010)
Hazleton’s funding ratio, for comparison, is 52 percent, and the city is considered “moderately distressed” by the state. (“Pa.: 28 pension plans distressed,” Times Leader, July 27, 2010)
And once again, Mitchell lied about Hazleton’s unemployment rate.
According to the Citizens’ Voice, William Sholly, industry and business analyst for the Pa. Center for Workforce Information & Analysis (the center that published the unemployment rate Kanjorski and his spokesman tout), Hazleton’s high unemployment rate is misleading: “There were fewer employed people in the city of Hazleton since last year, but more people are in the labor force and so the rate can increase quite a bit, based on the numbers." (“Hazleton’s unemployment highest in Pa.,” Citizens’ Voice, July 7, 2010)
Mitchell continues to lie on behalf of his desperate boss, and reporters continue to report their bogus claims as fact.
I know it’s easy to get drawn in by the lies of Kanjorski and his spokesman. Kanjorski and his Mitchell-led spin machine are getting incredibly desperate.
Look at the facts:
• Kanjorski has represented this region for 26 years.
• Kanjorski took more than $4.2 million in campaign contributions from the financial services industry – the very industry he is supposed to oversee (Source: Center for Responsive Politics).
• Kanjorski’s failure to exert proper oversight led to the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression.
• That collapse knocked billions of dollars out of pension funds, 401(k)s, and other retirement portfolios.
• More than half – 55 percent – of pension systems in Northeastern Pennsylvania are in some form of distressed status.
And Kanjorski blames Lou Barletta for Hazleton’s pension fund? How does he explain the pension fund situation in Scranton? Or Roaring Brook Township? Or Dunmore? Or Hanover Township? Or the dozen other municipalities with
similar or worse pension fund issues?
Kanjorski and Mitchell are trying to shift the blame away from Kanjorski’s failed policies and failed leadership – and they’re doing it by lying and stretching the facts about Lou Barletta’s record. They’re blaming Lou Barletta for problems that exist on a national and statewide level.
This isn’t the first time Mitchell lied to you, either. He lied about Hazleton being unique in balancing its budget and claimed that no other municipalities had to raise taxes or cut services. Think of your own coverage area – possibly even your own neighborhood – and you know that’s not true. More than that, it’s demonstrably not true.
We fully expect Kanjorski and Mitchell to continue their desperate attacks. I strongly encourage you to factcheck every single claim Mitchell makes, as he clearly cannot distinguish fact from fantasy. This is a very important race, and the entire Kanjorski/Mitchell strategy is to lie, to mislead, and to get media outlets to publish blurbs that can be used in television ads.
If you have any questions, please contact me.