U.S. Rep. John Spratt, D-S.C., stepped up his attack against challenger Mick Mulvaney in a new television ad that criticizes the Republican candidate for his role in a failed housing development.
Indian Land resident Gina Santoro is featured in the 30-second ad, which focuses on the partially built Edenmoor subdivision in northern Lancaster County.
In the ad, paid for by the Spratt campaign, Santoro says, "Mick Mulvaney definitely cheated the taxpayers of Lancaster County when he asked for $30 million to develop this. He promised he would see this project through till the end and he didn't. He lied."
Spratt's campaign ads have blamed the failure of Edenmoor on Mulvaney, saying he secured $30 million in bonds for the community, sold the property for a $7 million profit and then didn't keep promises to stay involved in the project.
Mulvaney said he never made promises to stay involved. He also denies making $7 million in profit, but declines to disclose specific figures.
The Indian Land Republican stresses the bonds were issued on the private market and that taxpayers are not responsible.
Mulvaney produced a stack of documents to show he sold his ownership stake in Edenmoor in 2005 before problems began.
The Spratt campaign held a conference call Monday to discuss the commercial. Santoro told reporters she considers herself a Republican, but contacted the Spratt campaign recently to share her concerns about Edenmoor.
Mulvaney said the commercials are inaccurate and inflammatory.
"The woman said I definitely lied and cheated, I dispute those facts," Mulvaney said. "I've always disputed the amount of money they say I made on this. There is a long list of facts I dispute."
Later Monday, Republicans called attention to the fact that Santoro works for a company that has received help from Spratt's office.
Santoro is director of client services for Todd, Bremer and Lawson, a college loan collections agency. Spratt protected such agencies in a recent legislative battle over the Perkins loan program.
Spratt communications director Nu Wexler said Edenmoor continues to be an issue because it is important to voters. Spratt, of York, seeks a 15th term in the 5th Congressional District.
"It gives some insight into what should be key questions when someone runs for office," said Richards McCrae, chairman of the York County Democratic Party. "What is this person's judgment? Are they trustworthy or are they a hypocrite?"
Today, only 50 Edenmoor residents live on streets surrounded by mounds of dirt and construction debris. The Lancaster County Council approved in February a measure that allowed county attorneys to begin the process of condemning the 60-acre park and EMS station in the community.
In a recent meeting with reporters, Mulvaney pinned the new owner's problems on the collapse of the home construction industry. He said the foreclosure process would allow a new developer to buy the property and resume work.