About 7,000 people who received a political email from a York County business leader might be getting a second letter retracting some of the content of the first.
Judge candidate and former U.S. Rep. Todd Platts is disputing information distributed by opponent Judge Michael Flannelly's biggest contributor, saying the campaign donor sent a mass email containing "blatant untruths and efforts to distort."
In an April 7 email and post on his website, Penn Waste president and owner Scott Wagner called Platts "York County's Pension Poster Person" and cited his government benefits as an example of "lifelong leeching by legislators."
Wagner listed several of Platts' benefits to bolster this position, writing that
Platts received a "lump sum payment" of more than $25,000 from the state House after his eight years as a state representative.
Disputes claims: But Platts said Wagner's "numerous inaccurate and misleading" statements included his failing to note that the money withdrawn from the State Employees' Retirement System was all money Platts paid into the system and the interest it generated over the years.
"I withdrew my own money," he said.
Platts provided a copy of the officially stamped "Application for Annuity" to The York Dispatch, reflecting his election to remove his own contributions.
Platts also sent the newspaper a copy of his May health insurance bill to dispute Wagner's written claims that taxpayers were paying for his "Cadillac" health insurance plan. The bill directs Platts to pay the $1,381.45 for his Blue Cross and Blue Shield coverage, and Platts said he and his wife pay "100 percent" of the insurance costs.
"My intent here was to address this privately," Platts said, "I sent a letter to (Wagner) and cc'd it to (Flannelly)."
In Platts' April 11 letter to Wagner, which noted a copy to Flannelly, Platts wrote that he wanted Wagner to communicate the errors to the email recipients.
After not hearing from either party after more than a week, Platts decided during a prescheduled meeting with Flannelly on Friday to publicly address the inaccuracies, he said.
The money: Wagner, who said he has given about $35,000 to Flannelly's campaign "so far," admitted in the email and website post that he has "never been a fan" of Platts.
But Platts said even that isn't true. He said Wagner, a conservative Republican activist, was once "a fan" who previously contributed to at least one of Platts' campaigns but presumably stopped "when I wouldn't jump when he said 'Jump.'"
Though there is no state limit on how much money an individual can contribute to a campaign, Platts said he is self-imposing a $2,600-per-person limit for donors and doesn't plan to spend more than about $37,000 on his campaign.
Wagner said the Flannelly campaign is likely to cost $100,000, and he'll fund the entire thing if he needs to.
He said the $100,000 campaign is "a drop in the bucket" toward counteracting the 12 years of free mailers Platts got to promote his activities as an incumbent legislator.
While Platts has questioned the ethics behind accepting so much money from one donor, Wagner said his campaign contribution "says something for me."
"I could just go to Atlantic City and gamble," he said. "But I expect Mike Flannelly to win and to continue to be the judge he has been since last year. That's the only expectation I have."
Flannelly said that, because of the "substantial nature" of Wagner's campaign donations, he'll recuse himself from ever presiding over a case pertaining to Wagner or his business.
Correction 'if': Wagner said Monday that he removed the website posting and he'll send a correction email to the same 7,000 recipients of the original letter if Platts can prove the factual errors.
"I published the facts that I had available at the time," he said. "The only issue is the health insurance. Whether he put the money in (the state pension retirement system) or not, he did take a one-time payment."
Wagner said he believes the real problem is Platts' focus "on the fact that I've given Mike Flannelly money."
Platts said he has mailed copies of the "proof" to both Flannelly and Wagner.
Flannelly said Monday that he didn't recall having received the correspondence from Platts, but he did ask Wagner to correct or remove the material from the website.
"Quite frankly, I don't even know the website address and I'm not on (Wagner's) email list," he said. "I don't proofread or see Mr. Wagner's communications. He apparently regularly emails his thoughts on political matters, and he has been doing this for some time."
He said he hadn't had a chance to speak with Wagner about the email, but he does plan to discuss it with the donor.
"If Mr. Platts said it's not correct, I'm going to take him on his word that it's not correct," Flannelly said.
-- Reach Christina Kauffman at firstname.lastname@example.org.