Responding to Mango attack, Wagner's daughter demands apology in new ad
About a week after his primary opponent began airing a personal attack ad, gubernatorial candidate Scott Wagner has responded with an ad featuring his oldest daughter demanding an apology.
Republican candidate Paul Mango's ad, which began running Wednesday, April 4, depicted cartoon versions of Wagner as "Slumlord Wagner," "Bail Bondsman Wagner," "Toxic Wagner," "Greedy Wagner" and "Deadbeat Dad Wagner."
In a new ad that begins airing Thursday, April 12, Katharine Wagner calls Mango "a disgrace" and urges him to "take down your disgusting ads and apologize."
"Dragging me into his dirty campaign is beyond the bounds of decency," Katharine Wagner states in the commercial.
Mango's ad doesn't directly involve Katharine Wagner, though, as the "deadbeat dad" assertion is in relation to allegations that he was late paying $800,000 in child support for a different daughter.
Andrew Romeo, a spokesman for Wagner's campaign, acknowledged that Katharine wasn't the specific daughter Mango was referencing, but "she still was offended by the suggestion that Scott is a 'deadbeat dad' and the attacks on her family as a whole."
Laura Lebaudy, a spokeswoman for Mango's campaign, wrote in a statement that it has not and will not bring up Katharine Wagner in any way.
"It is disappointing to see that Wagner is the one who chose to bring his daughter into this campaign to defend his actions when no one else has," Lebaudy wrote. "What we have done is shine a spotlight on Sen. Wagner misleading the court and being ordered to pay $800,000 in back alimony and child support to a different daughter and one of his other ex-wives because that speaks to Sen. Wagner’s character, and we believe there is no more important issue in this race than someone’s character.”
The Associated Press noted that a judge found in 2012 that Wagner had an “arrearage” of $800,000 in a case stemming from a dispute over Wagner’s income that should be considered eligible for calculating his support obligations. The judge’s opinion noted that Wagner had made payments going back to the separation.
Wagner, a state senator from Spring Garden Township, is used to such criticisms, as similar claims were made during his 2014 state Senate campaign.
Those attacks also were coming from within his own party, though he was running as a write-in during that special election, while he is now the state party's endorsed gubernatorial candidate.
Earlier this week, state GOP chairman Val DiGiorgio addressed Mango's ad, calling it "over the top" and a character assassination that only benefits Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, according to the AP.
PFA petition: Katharine Wagner, who works for her father at Penn Waste, was a primary subject of attacks against Scott Wagner during his Senate campaign after an anonymous package containing a Protection from Abuse petition she filed against her father in 2006 was sent to 16 people, including a York Dispatch reporter.
The PFA petition, which was later dropped, was filed after an incident in which Scott Wagner visited his then 18-year-old daughter Katharine at her residence in York Township.
According to the petition, Katharine Wagner asked her father to leave several times, but he refused. An argument ensued, during which Scott Wagner "put both hands around (his daughter's) neck, squeezing (his daughter's) neck and shaking her.
"The father also grabbed both of her wrists, pushing her against a counter," according to the petition.
Scott and Katharine Wagner met with reporters during the campaign about the incident.
He said he disputed the facts contained in the petition, but he declined to say what was inaccurate.
"It was a very heated argument and yeah, there was touching involved, but some of the touching involved was inaccurate," he said.
When asked whether she agreed with her father's assessment, Katherine Wagner said, "All I'll say is at the time I was making some poor decisions, and I have a child of my own now and I can understand why it reached the level it did."
— Reach David Weissman at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @DispatchDavid.