GOP, Dems spar over campaign materials

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Updated 9 a.m. 10-17: Confirms Reif’s title is Controller

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times

Margaret Reif (left) and Norman MacQueen

The county’s Democrats are taking Controller Norman MacQueen to task for citing achievements on Republican Party campaign literature that Democrats say are “outrageous” and “imagined” while GOP officials say challenger Margaret Reif is being dishonest about her background and qualifications — a charge ultimately proven as untrue.

Democratic County Chair Brian J. McGinnis started the war of words Saturday, issuing a statement saying McQueen had taken credit for reducing county spending and cutting taxes.

“The Republican Party of Chester County must be worried about the re-election prospects of Controller Norm MacQueen, as they have taken a strategy from the Trump playbook by resorting to naked hyperbole,” McGinnis said in a statement.”Chester County voters didn’t fall for Trump’s nonsense in 2016, and they won’t fall for MacQueen’s in 2017.”

McGinnis argued that McQueen’s claims were disingenuous — suggesting that MacQueen has no role as Controller in setting county taxes.

“Let’s start with the obvious point that the County Controller does not prepare or approve the budget or set tax rates,” McGinnis said. “The Commissioners do that. Even if such a thing were possible, we defy MacQueen to identify one line-item in the budget that was reduced through his influence. We would be impressed if he could identify a single tax that was reduced by his office. I doubt strongly the voters in Chester County would agree their tax bill went down.”

Republicans, though, argued that McGinnis was wrong.

“Norm MacQueen has helped keep taxes low in Chester County,” said Shannon Royer, the county GOP Executive Director. “In fact, he recently led the effort to save the county’s retirement board hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for taxpayers. What has Margaret Reif ever done for taxpayers?”

McGinnis hit the GOP incumbent over claims of saving money via audits.

“The second bullet point (on the literature) offers that MacQueen ‘Instituted Performance Audits…’.”McGinnis said. “County Controllers have been auditing the county government for hundreds of years.  It’s their most basic and primary function.  The Controller’s website shows audits going back to 1978.

“If there is a new type of audit being performed by the Controller’s office, why are they not available online with the regular audits?  As an elected official, the County Controller owes a duty to the public to be transparent.  Instead of empty boasts, let’s see the product.  What is MacQueen hiding?” McGinnis asked.

Royer, parried, citing various initiatives in the Controllers office to save county funds.

“In addition to conducting financial audits as controller, Norm MacQueen has spearheaded initiatives that have improved government efficiencies and performance, such as a comprehensive review of accounts payable in the county to ensure that there are no ‘phantom’ vendors in the system; a review of the county’s credit card usage to enhance efficiencies and avoid misuse; and departmental restructuring to improve effectiveness, performance and efficiency,” Royer said. “What is Margaret Reif’s record on reform?”

The two parties then sparred over Reif describing herself as a Controller for he Youth Mentoring Partnership — with both sides accusing the other of being dishonest, with the facts ultimately backing up the Democratic version of events.

“Three weeks before the election, the Democrats are lying about their qualifications and grumbling about our campaign materials,” Royer said. “What a sorry bunch. Meanwhile, Republicans like Norm MacQueen continue working to save money for taxpayers.

“I’m certain that voters will see through this political nonsense from the Democrats.”

Mark Mintzer, CEO  & Founder of YMP, clarified the issue, confirming that Reif’s title is Controller — and that the organization’s Website needs an update.

McGinnis reiterated that his candidate is deeply qualified.

“The Democratic Candidate for Controller, Margaret Reif, is an experienced and qualified financial professional who has served as a Controller in the private sector, but critically, she possesses a strong record of personal and professional integrity,” he said. “Integrity such that would save Chester County voters from being exposed to similarly dishonest claims four years hence.

“I trust the voters will choose integrity over hyperbole in 2017.”

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