HARRISBURG - The Pennsylvania Bar Association said Friday it has taken the unusual step of asking a state appeals court candidate to take down a TV ad that the professional organization considers misleading. But the candidate said he stands by his claims.
The association's judicial campaign advertising committee said Vic Stabile, the Republican nominee for Superior Court, is running an ad the committee concluded violates a bar pledge he took not to make misleading statements as a candidate.
In Stabile's 30-second ad, a narrator says the Democratic opponent - Allegheny County Judge Jack McVay Jr. - got court jobs for his fiancee and his sister-in-law. "We need an honest judge," the narrator says.
McVay's campaign spokesman acknowledged that McVay hired his sister-in-law after he was elected to the bench in 2007, but said he did so because he was assigned to the family court division and she had experience in child welfare cases. McVay disclosed how they are related when she was hired, said spokesman Marty Marks.
The judge was not involved in the hiring of his fiancee for a clerical job in the court, but disclosed their relationship when she was hired, he said.
Stabile "signed a pledge not to do this," Marks said. "If he can't keep his word at this level, does he have the integrity to be a judge?"
Stabile, a Harrisburg lawyer, defended the ad as "accurate in every respect" and said he wanted to draw attention to the problem of nepotism in the state courts.
The ad began airing Monday, barely a week before next week's election, in areas that include McVay's Pittsburgh home base, Stabile said.
"We put it out there for people to consider," he said.
Taking aim at his critics in the bar association, Stabile said political speech is "one of the highest forms of protected speech under our constitution. The bar association should not be getting in the way of that constitutional right."