Former Republican candidate Marc Woerner has filed a complaint with the Pennsylvania Department of State, hoping to determine the identity of the person or people who sent negative mailers that targeted him in the days before the May 20 primary for the 169th House.

While an investigation won't change the result of the race, the loss of which Woerner attributes to the attack ads, he said he wants the group of people who "orchestrated" the sabotage to be held accountable.

"I think what I'm looking for is resolution, to make sure this kind of stuff doesn't happen to any other candidate," said Woerner, of West Manheim Township. "Whoever is behind this bit of fictitious mailings, they're not following the rules and playing by campaign finance laws. You can't just throw your hands up and say, 'Oh, well.' It's a blatant violation of campaign finance law and it shouldn't be difficult...to follow the money. Someone paid for it. Someone printed it. Someone mailed it."

The mailers are labeled as having been paid for by "PA Taxpayers for Integrity;''no registered PAC is listed under that name in Department of State records.

Woerner said he believes the mailers were "in blatant violation of campaign finance laws because they were sent out by an unregistered, fictitious group" that didn't report the source of the estimated $10,000 cost of the mailers. He said the return address was not valid.

State responds: Department of State Press Secretary Ron Ruman said the investigation will be turned over to the York County District Attorney or the state's Attorney General if there's merit to establish a violation of the state's campaign finance law.

The prosecuting authority could levy fines or other penalties depending on the level of culpability determined, he said.

"The practical impact would be to try to deter future actions like this," Ruman said. "From a practical standpoint, they're not going to change the result of this election. It is unfortunate that you can't take any action to change the result."

Woerner's GOP challenger, Kate Klunk, won the primary to advance to November's general election, for which a Democrat is not on the ballot.

The 169th House includes Codorus, Heidelberg, Penn, Manheim, Shrewsbury and West Manheim townships and Glen Rock, Hanover, New Freedom, Jefferson and Railroad boroughs.

— Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.