Elections (Archived)

Deceptive ad paints PA-177 Dem candidate as ‘terrorist sympathizer’

Sean Kilkenny - from his Facebook page

Sean Kilkenny - from his Facebook page

Sean Kilkenny, a union-backed candidate in Northeast Philly’s 177th House District Democratic primary, has distributed a clutch of attack mailers that inaccurately cites past reporting by City&State PA to paint opponent Joe Hohenstein as a “terrorist sympathizer.”

The mailers refer to a report from November 2016 that describes an even older attack ad circulated by former Republican state Rep. John Taylor during an earlier race against Hohenstein, an immigration lawyer.

Taylor, who announced his retirement in 2017, described Hohenstein as a “terrorist’s lawyer” because of the attorney’s involvement in two cases from the early 2000s that involved clients who were suspected of terrorist links. 

In his own mailer, Kilkenny instead asserts that “Hohenstein was named as ‘a lawyer who defends terrorists,’” and inaccurately cites City & State PA reporting as the source of this claim.

The Hohenstein campaign shot back, decrying their opponent’s broader conduct in the race.

“Kilkenny has cited a Republican attack and tried to deceive voters by claiming it came directly from a news source,” wrote Hohenstein, in an email. “It appears Sean Kilkenny would rather use Trump-style attack ads than debate the issues, which is why he failed to show up to the only candidate debate.”

The inaccuracy is perhaps one of the less venomous aspects of Kilkenny’s recent ads, which have depicted Candidate Maggie Borski, a law student who is the daughter of former Congressman Bob Borski, as a “lobbyist” for performing clerical work at her father’s political consultancy. Kilkenny’s camp faced further criticism last week after publicizing Borski’s home address in another one of its attack ad mailers.

Kilkenny did not respond to a request for comment.

The union plasterer has been flooded with money from area labor groups and has spent nearly $300,000 to date in his bid to secure the Democratic nomination. 

Also a property manager, Kilkenny is part-owner of a Northeast Philadelphia bar that had distributed t-shirts bearing a racial epithet