Jess King (D), 16th District OPPONENT

Jess King is the Democratic opponent of Congressman Lloyd Smucker

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November 1, 2018
Lancaster online
Fact check: U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker doesn’t mention half his campaign funds when talking about his out-of-state money

Does U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker receive more campaign funds from outside Pennsylvania, or does his opponent, Jess King?

Both candidates have said it’s important to “follow the money” — to trace who they’ll be “working for” in Washington, D.C., as they represent Lancaster and York counties in Congress.

But after three debates and a month of attack ads, it’s clear that Smucker, the Republican incumbent facing an aggressive Democratic challenger, is not painting a full picture when talking about his campaign funds.

Before voters head to the polls on Nov. 6, LNP fact-checked a few of the most heated claims during the 11th Congressional District candidates’ third and final debate, held at Eastern York High School in Wrightsville on Tuesday.

For a fact-check of some of their other previous debate claims, click here.

Where the money comes from

Claim 1: Smucker said 60 percent of King’s campaign funds have come from outside Pennsylvania. King said more of Smucker’s funds — 70 percent — come from out-of-state, and that hers “is like 55 percent out-of-state.”

Claim 2: King said 52 percent of Smucker’s funds come from political action committees while hers “comes from people.”

Claim 3: Smucker called her figures “absolutely incorrect.” He said she gets a “significant portion of her dollars” from “literally liberals, leftists” in San Francisco and New York. Voters, he said, should visit OpenSecrets.com, which he said does “a good job identifying where candidates’ dollars come from.”

First off — both candidates get the majority of their campaign  funds from outside the district and outside Pennsylvania. That’s far from abnormal in today’s politics.

And while it’s tricky to get a full picture of where all their money is coming from, it’s clear that Smucker is leaving some major pieces out of the conversation about his own finances.

On the first claim, Smucker was roughly correct when speaking about King’s out-of-district donations, and how a significant portion has come from places like San Francisco and New York. King isn’t denying that, and she accurately said her out-of-state donations make up 55 percent of her account.

But when Smucker called her claims “absolutely incorrect,” he was wrong. He pointed out the Open Secrets website — operated by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Responsive Politics — and continued to promote it on social mediaafter the debate.

There are a couple issues here.

The website, and therefore Smucker, singled out only half of his total campaign funds.

It shows about $800,000 of donations to his campaign, with 53 percent inside the state and 47 percent outside. What it doesn’t include (and this is mentioned in the footnotes) are donations under $200 that don’t need to be disclosed and, more important for Smucker, political action committee donations.

Smucker has received about $880,000 more from political and corporate committees, according to Federal Elections Commission reports. Those committees are almost entirely from outside Pennsylvania. They include some local groups like Lancaster General Health and the Hershey Company, but they are still almost entirely made up of groups based outside of Pennsylvania — from Exxon Mobil to Koch Industries.

Even Google, which is based in that same Silicon Valley city that Smucker is criticizing King for getting donations from, has a PAC based in Washington and it donated $2,000 to him.

King doesn’t take any money from corporations’ political action committees. She has received about $41,000 from other kinds of political committees — so Open Secrets is missing that PAC money from her.

But it is also missing the smaller donations, which accounted for roughly $631,000 of King’s $1.6 million raised. While the campaigns aren’t required to disclose the details of those smaller donations, King’s campaign spokesman said that when they’re accounted for, 54 percent of all her funds come from out-of-state and 46 percent from within Pennsylvania.

Smucker, for his part, has raised just $14,300 from donors who gave less than $200, according to campaign finance reports.

The caravan

Claim: Building a case for President Donald Trump’s proposed southern border wall, Smucker said the caravan of Central American immigrants approaching the border includes 7,000 to 10,000 people. He compared it to “the entire city of Columbia coming across the river to York County.”

Claim: The congressman implied the caravan “would be a perfect opportunity” for people who “want to harm us, want to enter our borders, who intend to harm us.”

In Smucker’s first public comments about the caravan, he roughly doubled its actual size. The Mexican government estimates there are now about 4,000 migrants in the caravan, down from as many as 7,000 earlier in their journey.

So, it’s less than half the size of Lancaster County’s 10,300-resident river town.

The caravan has been widely reported to contain mostly impoverished Hondurans seeking asylum in Mexico and the United States. Trump has repeatedly claimed there are criminals in the mix, and the Department of Homeland Security recently said there are “gang members” or those “with significant criminal histories” but has not offered examples or evidence.

According to U.S. law, the migrants may apply to enter the country and seek asylum if and when they arrive.

Abolishing ICE

Claim: Smucker said King “wants to disband ICE,” the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency that some Democrats plan to abolish. “She’s part of a group that calls ICE a terrorist group,” he said.

Smucker has been citing King’s endorsement from a national progressive group called Justice Democrats to make this mostly false claim. He said King made a “pledge” to agree with their platform when she asked for their endorsement — and their platform does include abolishing ICE, which it calls a “state-funded terror group.”

King has correctly said the only “pledge” part of the endorsement was to not take corporate PAC money (which she doesn’t do). As for the rest of the platform, Justice Democrats said its candidates would “generally agree” with it, and King has consistently said she does not support abolishing ICE.

Medicare and Social Security

Claims: Smucker and King both made similar claims to what they’ve said previously on Medicare and Social Security. King said “Medicare-for-all” would save $2 trillion by replacing consumers’ current health care costs, and Smucker said that would mean “doubling our tax rates.” King said Smucker voted to “cut half-a-trillion-dollars” from the programs while Smucker called that incorrect. Check LNP’s previous fact-checks on those claims here.

Claim: Smucker, trying to rebuff the idea that a single-payer system would work in the U.S., said Canadians with that type of system wait an average of 20 weeks for “medically necessary benefits.”

Smucker correctly named a study from the Vancouver-based Fraser Institute that detailed Canada’s average wait time. The finding was the result of an annual survey of physicians, according to the group’s website.  Source

Oct 29, 2018
Lancaster Online
Jess King and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker clash over campaign ad during Democracy Day forum

Democratic congressional hopeful Jess King said in a public forum Monday that U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker was trying to stoke fear and “tell lies just to get elected” while the incumbent defended his controversial television ads and called her criticisms “naive at best.”

The forum, designed for high school students from across Lancaster County to engage with the 11th Congressional District candidates, touched on a range of issues while diverting multiple times to the latest attack ads.

“This is part of the problem in the political moment. Congressman Smucker knows that I’m not for legalizing heroin,” King said, referring to Smucker’s ad that claims a progressive group that endorsed her supports legalizing all drugs. “Like, you know me and you know my character. The fact that that is something that he OK’d to put on TV — I truly don’t understand it.”

Smucker defended his ad, accurately saying the website for the national group, Justice Democrats, previously stated its platform was for “legalization and regulation” of drugs.

Smucker did not say, however, that the website never specifically mentioned legalizing heroin — or that the website has since changed to specify the platform is about legalizing marijuana. A Justice Democrats’ spokesperson also told LNP last week that it was “laughable to suggest” they want to legalize heroin.

“What I don’t understand is why you would specifically fill out the questionnaire and ask for the endorsement of the group that you do not agree with,” Smucker maintained.

The back-and-forth was the most heated moment of the candidates’ second public debate this month. (Watch a replay of the event below.)

They will meet for a third time at a forum Tuesday night in Wrightsville.

Monday’s event was part of the first-ever Democracy Day hosted by LNP Media Group and the Lancaster Chamber at Garden Spot High School. After a morning session where students from 26 public, private and parochial high schools gathered to develop questions, seven students were selected to pose them on stage to the candidates.

Smucker, a West Lampeter Township Republican, is seeking a second term on Nov. 6. King, a Lancaster Democrat, is an economic development nonprofit director running for office for the first time.

The discussion focused on everything from immigration and election security to school safety and agriculture as the students posed their questions.

‘Fear-based politics’?

In the ongoing discussion of the ad, King also called it “patently false” to claim she supports “open borders” and abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency — which the ad does with a dramatic voiceover and flashes of black-and-white images of tattooed men and drug paraphernalia.

“I would like you to not stoke fear in the way that you are,” King said. “I mean, honestly, we look at the conditions of this country right now and you can argue what happened in Pittsburgh was a result of our fear-based politics. We have to stop. And to talk about facts. That’s my request of you. To stop throwing on labels and to actually talk about what’s actually real in this moment. So I don’t support open borders. I never said I’m in support of abolishing ICE.”

Smucker responded, “To say that I’m stoking fear when I’m talking about individuals who want to come into the country to harm us is naive at best. We know what happened on 9/11. We know that ISIS is out to destroy us. We now that terrorists from other countries are out to harm American citizens and as I said one of the top roles of the federal government is to ensure we can all feel safe.”

On the issues

Responding to the students’ issue-based questions, the candidates revealed their divisions.

Smucker said school safety efforts should focus on identifying mental health problems and at-risk students early. King talked about mental health care but first mentioned comprehensive gun background check reform and banning weapons like bump stocks.

On the job market and education, Smucker said more resources should be available for high school students to know about college majors and the availability of jobs, many of which don’t need four-year degrees. King spoke about her support for debt-free public colleges by investing in public higher education.

On actual immigration reform, King spoke mostly about the importance of resettling refugees — an effort that the Trump administration has significantly scaled back. Smucker said securing the border should come first, and then lawmakers can talk about legal immigration like securing a permanent legal status for young immigrants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.

Asked what they’d propose as a 28th constitutional amendment, Smucker said it should be one to balance the federal budget. King picked campaign finance reform to lessen the influence of “special interests” in Washington.

And, at the end, answering a question about the polarized nature of “entrenched party politics,” Smucker talked about having respect for the opposing party while King said the conversation should focus on bipartisan solutions.

Moments later, they were arguing again over Smucker’s latest ad.  Source

Oct 16, 2018
Penn Live
In Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District, challenger Jess King shows impressive fundraising chops

U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, has lost his fundraising lead over Democratic challenger Jess King in the race for Pennsylvania's 11th Congressional District.

Democrat Jess King has forced her way into the conversation in Pennsylvania’s 11th Congressional District by virtue of a strong fundraising performance through the summer.

Third quarter reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show King raised $634,888 through the summer months, virtually all of it through individual donations.

Her opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep Lloyd Smucker, R-Lancaster, added $254,192 to his war chest.

King’s work through the summer has brought her full-cycle total ($1.42 million) nearly even with Smucker’s, ($1.43 million), and in a bit of a surprise, she had more cash on hand heading into the home stretch.

The Friends of Jess King committee recorded $601,000 in the bank at the start of October, compared to the Smucker for Congress committee’s $161,609.

What’s most impressive about King’s fundraising is that she has, for the most part, eschewed PAC dollars.

King collected $15,150 from political committees this summer, led by $5,500 from End Citizens United and $5,000 from Emily’s List, the PAC famous for supporting progressive female candidates.

Team Smucker, by contrast, has been mostly funded by PACs and political committees.

The committees backing Smucker read like a who’s who of corporate America: Exelon, Koch Industries, Google, The Vanguard Group, McDonald’s, General Electric, as well as a plethora of trade groups.

One other notable difference:

King, as a darling of the progressive movement, has garnered most of her individual contributions from donors outside of Pennsylvania. Smucker’s individual donor base, while dwarfed by PACs, is largely Pa.-based.

Smucker’s campaign downplayed the gap in cash available as of Oct. 1.

Campaign spokesman Mike Barley said Tuesday “a lot of our buys are already set,” so Smucker’s re-elect message will be part of the conversation both through television and mail channels over the next three weeks.

In addition, Barley said, he expects Smucker will continue to receive more resources from his supporters as needed.

Another sign of comfort for the GOP?

In the general election campaign to date, King’s campaign has apparently not drawn close enough to Smucker to merit outside artillery from groups like Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

That’s the uphill climb any Democrat would face in the new 11th, which consists of all of Lancaster County and the southern portions of York County.

It is a district that backed Donald Trump over Hilary Clinton in 2016 by a 63.6 to 36.4 percent margin.

According to race tracking by ProPublica, the only significant outside spending in the general election campaign has been $25,700 for staffing and other support from the progressive Beyond The Choir Action Fund.

In the neighboring 10th District by comparison, where incumbent Rep. Scott Perry, R-York, is facing a challenge from Democrat George Scott, outside spending in the general election campaign has topped $400,000.

Smucker’s camp has also jabbed at King during the campaign for paying herself a salary – roughly $3,800 a month according to FEC records – out of her campaign funds.

But the Democrat has defended it as necessary to do while working a full-time campaign.

One thing’s certain, however. Unlike past races in Lancaster County, this will continue to be a two-party dialogue with voters.   Source

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