UPDATE: Stabile stands by his controversial ad.
In a statement just received by Commonwealth Confidential, Superior Court candidate Vic Stabile said:
“I stand by my ad. Judges should not be hiring their family members or asking others to do that for them. This issue of judicial nepotism is if great public concern and already has had a very damaging effect on our judicial system. The bottom line is that I am committed to ensuring equal justice under law, and will be a fair and honest judge for all Pennsylvanians. Political speech is one of the highest forms of free speech protected by the First Amendment.”
The usually low key judicial races got a little testy this weekend.
Republican Vic Stabile of Cumberland County went negative on his Democratic opponent, Allegheny County Judge Jack McVay, in the race for the open seat on the state Superior Court.
The problem was, according to the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the TV ad violated a pledge both candidates took to keep the campaign free of misleading or distorted claims (in other words, keep it clean boys).
The ad accuses McVay of using his position as a family court judge to get jobs for his girlfriend and sister-in-law.
The normally-staid Bar Association jumped in on Friday going public with its criticism of Stabile, after privately asking the candidate to take down the ad without result.
According to the pledge they took, “Every effort should be made to refrain from making statements that might be subject to misinterpretation or distortion.”
The guidelines also emphasized that if a violation occurs, the candidate "may be requested to withdraw or amend the problematic or offensive advertisement."
“Judicial campaigns are different from other political campaigns,” said Richard M. Goldberg, chair of the bar association's Judicial Campaign Advertising Committee. “Candidates running for judgeships must abide by the Code of Judicial Conduct, which prohibits candidates from making false or misleading statements about themselves or their opponents.”
Today the Pennsylvania Democratic Party Chairman Jim Burn weighed in, saying the ad proves Stabile does not have the "character necessary to serve the citizens of the Commonwealth."
"Vic Stabile should take down the negative, misleading ad immediately and apologize not only to Judge Jack McVay, but also to the people of Pennsylvania," said Burn, adding McVay has run a "clean campaign."
McVay and Stabile, an attorney with Dilworth Paxson, are vying for the only open seat on the state's top two courts.
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille, a Republican and Justice Max Baer, a Democrat, also are on the ballot. Both are seeking to retain their seats on the high court.
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