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Ryan TV ad breaks rules, opponent says



Published: Fri, September 20, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Ann Womer Benjamin's campaign implied that Ryan thinks he's above the rules.

By DAVID SKOLNICK

VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER

BOARDMAN -- Ann Womer Benjamin's campaign manager described it as a "sad, sad day in Mahoning Valley politics."

Timothy J. Ryan's campaign spokesman described it as "just petty nonsense" and "pathetic tactics."

They were talking about Ryan's television ad that includes the disclaimer that it is "paid for by the Committee to Elect Tim Ryan to Congress."

David All, Womer Benjamin's campaign manager, accused Ryan camp of "running an illegal ad with a fictional committee name." Ryan's election campaign name is Tim Ryan for Congress.

All called for Ryan's campaign to stop running the TV ad until it can be corrected and asked WFMJ, WKBN, WYTV, and Time Warner Cable to pull it off the air.

WFMJ initially agreed, but after a conversation with Ryan's campaign, general manager John Grdic said his production staff fixed the problems with the ad -- charging the candidate for the work -- and aired it Thursday.

The problems

The problems, which All said violated Federal Communications Commission rules, were the incorrect name of the committee and the amount of time the committee's name is shown during the commercial. The name is shown for three seconds; FCC rules require four, so viewers can be certain who paid for the ad.

Ryan's campaign is not running the ad on WYTV. Officials with WKBN and Time Warner Cable could not be reached.

Ryan, a Democratic state senator from Niles, is squaring off against Womer Benjamin, a Republican state representative from Aurora, and former U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr. of Poland, who is running as an independent candidate from a federal prison cell, in the 17th Congressional District race.

All said the problems with the ad is the latest in a series of election rules violations by Ryan's campaign.

The Womer Benjamin campaign has called on Ryan to recall all his campaign material and advertising because it violates federal law by failing to disclose who paid for it.

"Some people have trouble following the rules," All said. "They think they are above them or that the rules aren't important. You don't get to choose which laws you obey."

Ryan response

Patrick Lowry, Ryan's spokesman, said Womer Benjamin's campaign is complaining about the TV ad because they have nothing else to talk about. "This is a desperate attempt to get some attention," he said. "If they think these are the big issues, they are desperate and misguided."

Womer Benjamin's campaign is considering filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission.

It would not be the first.

Randy Walter of Canfield filed a complaint during the primary against Ryan regarding a questionable $50,000 loan his congressional campaign received. The FEC has not ruled on that issue. If the FEC finds that Ryan violated its rules, it could impose a civil fine.

"There is a clear pattern we are seeing," All said. "There are rules and they are in place for a reason. This district, for far too long, has had people who think they are above the law and here's another example."

skolnick@vindy.com




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