Both sides of the Delaware County District Attorney's race are claiming their counterpart misspent thousands of dollars, as Democrats questioned the purchase of fly swatters and nail files and Republicans challenged trips from Disney World to Chicago.
In the meantime, the Democratic slate for County Council made a little history, receiving the endorsement from the Delaware County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #27.
Incumbent Republican District Attorney Katayoun Copeland faces a contest from Democrat Jack Stollsteimer, who launched the first accusation by claiming she's abused the office's asset forfeiture fund and office account. Her campaign has said Stollsteimer needs to reimburse state taxpayers thousands of dollars for "educational" trips to Disney World and other locations.
"D.A. Copeland has spent more than $75,000 in county funds on giveaway items branded with her name that have no legitimate law enforcement use," Stollsteimer said as he called for an investigation into her use of county funds. "Fly swatters, back scratchers, stress balls and nail files are traditionally used as giveaway items for political campaigns. I believe that D.A. Copeland is illegally substituting county funds for items she should pay for from her campaign funds."
The Democrat said it appears that Copeland initiated a plan from her January 2018 appointment to use asset forfeiture funds and a $20,000 office account to build political support for this year's campaign. He also said it appeared many of the items were made in non-union shops in China.
"The D.A. is supposed to use tax dollars to keep us safe, not promote their political campaigns," Stollsteimer said. "Copeland should immediately reimburse the taxpayers for these expenses. As D.A., I'll make sure that all public funds are being used for legitimate law enforcement purposes that keep our communities safe."
However, Copeland's campaign says Stollsteimer is the one who needs to write a check.
"Before Jack Stollsteimer criticizes legitimate expenditures, he may want to reimburse Pennsylvania taxpayers for the thousands of dollars we paid last year to send him to Disney World Resorts for five days to attend an 'educational' program - just months before he stepped down from his politically appointed job in the State Treasurer's Office," Copeland's spokesman Pete Peterson said. "Apparently being one of the highest paid employees in the Treasurer's Office, being flown down to Florida and put up at a Disney resort on the taxpayer dime wasn't enough for Jack - he even had to get reimbursed by taxpayers for a $50 dinner at a steak restaurant in Disney Springs."
Peterson said Stollsteimer interviewed with Delaware County Court of Common Pleas Judges in January 2018 as a candidate for district attorney.
"While not a single one of the judges felt Stollsteimer was up to the job, Jack began to plan his run for district attorney at that point," Peterson said. "Then he proceeded to go on five taxpayer-funded 'educational' trips to Disney World, Chicago and other cities even though he knew he would be stepping down from the Treasurer's Office in just a few months. Stollsteimer is a hypocrite and his wild accusations are a political stunt that have no merit."
Peterson said Copeland's items were selected directly from feedback they received from seniors and have the direct phone numbers of detectives from the D.A.'s Senior Fraud Prevention Team on them.
"The goal was to ensure seniors had readily accessible contact information for the District Attorney's Office to report if they ever became a victim of elder fraud or abuse," he said, adding that the D.A.'s office receives about 10 to 15 calls a week from seniors asking about financial scams or reporting physical abuse.
Peterson said the items were purchased with drug forfeiture funds.
"With 93,000 seniors living in Delaware County, the money from drug forfeiture funds spent by the District Attorney's Office on this outreach effort to protect our seniors literally amounts to pennies - the equivalent of 4 cents a month," he said. "Voters deserve to know if Stollsteimer will be calling for an investigation of his fellow Democrat, the Delaware County Sheriff, who has spent actual taxpayer money on rubber bracelets, crayons, footballs and frisbees with his name on it. I am sure the public would love to hear what Jack thinks of the sheriff spending taxpayer money on those items."
The Democrat held his position.
"Many powerful politicians in Delco and Washington think they are above the law," he said. "It's time to remind them that they are accountable to the people. I'm certain voters will send that message this November."
In other election news, Democrats were celebrating the first endorsement of their County Council candidates - Christine Reuther, Elaine Paul Schaefer and Monica Taylor - by the Fraternal Order of Police, Delaware County Lodge #27.
"It's an honor to receive the FOP's endorsement for our campaign," Reuther said. "We are thrilled to have the support of the men and women who put their lives at risk to keep our communities safe."
Taylor added, "This is a historic endorsement. We are excited to have the FOP's support and we look forward to collaborating with them on matters of public safety throughout this campaign and when we govern."
The spokesman for the Republican County Council candidates - Jim Raith, Mike Morgan and Kelly Colvin - had a different viewpoint.
"When endorsing judges and the district attorney, the FOP is guided by criminal justice issues such as: public safety and law enforcement," Republican County Council campaign spokesman Cody Bright said. "But when endorsing non-law enforcement positions such as County Council, the FOP is guided by government union issues. We don’t anticipate being endorsed by any governmental unions given our pledge to keep taxes low."