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GOP Congressman Ryan Costello avoids Trump

Written by John Latimer/Lebanon Daily News | Aug 15, 2016 7:00 PM
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Congressman Ryan Costello weighs in on the presidential election between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. (Photo by Jeremy Long, Lebanon Daily News)

Parrish's failure to file financial disclosure statement is questioned

(Undated) -- Republican Ryan Costello is much more interested in talking about his Democratic opponent than his party's presidential candidate.

A first-term congressman from Chester County, the 39-year-old Costello is running for reelection in Pennsylvania's Sixth District against businessman Mike Parrish, who also resides in Chester County. In addition to Chester, the district includes parts of Lebanon, Berks and Montgomery counties.

after touring a South Lebanon Township dairy farm last week, Costello took time out to briefly discuss his campaign and the turbulent presidential election.

Like many Republicans trying to retain their seats, Costello has distanced himself from controversial GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump, including deciding not to go to the Republican National Convention after being elected as a delegate.

But that doesn't mean the former Chester County commissioner is embracing Hillary Clinton.

"There are a lot of things going on in that (presidential) campaign, in that election between those candidates, that I take issue with," Costello said. "But I have to be totally honest with you, I am in my own race and you know the moment I start offering, you know, whatever today's commentary is in the national media - on he said this or she said that - every constituent of mine, every voter is going to have their own opinion on that. Just as they are going to have their opinion on me. And the more time I spend talking about me and what I've done, the more, hopefully, they will at least turn off the television or get off the Facebook feed and focus on what I'm doing."

With fewer than 90 days until the Nov. 8 election, Costello said he is beginning to ramp up his campaign, and that includes going on the offensive against Parrish and his financial records.

Repeating a claim his campaign made last month, Costello hammered away at Parrish for not filing his financial disclosure statement with the Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. The document, required for reasons of transparency, includes information about the source, type, amount or value of their incomes, according to the office's website.

A graduate of West Point who served as a U.S. Army aviator for 14 years and is still a colonel in the Army Reserves, the 49-year-old Parrish has a master's degree in astronautical engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He has worked for General Electric and was president of an environmental services company before becoming CEO of Daleco Resources Corp., a Nevada-based natural resources company with operating offices in West Chester.

Despite Parrish's impressive business credentials, Costello's campaign has claimed that by not filing his financial disclosure statement he is trying to hide his financial problems, which include a lawsuit involving former business partners and a foreclosure on a nearly $700,000 home he owns in Malvern with his ex-wife, whom he divorced in 2014. His campaign also is operating with a debt of more than $110,000 and has just $41,000 on hand, according to the latest campaign finance documents that are up to date through June 30.

A month ago, Parrish said the foreclosure should be settled in a week and blamed his failure to file a financial disclosure statement on a miscommunication with the Office of the Clerk. He also said that he was working with the clerk on getting it filed.

"From my vantage point, if anyone wants to know what I think about politics or Congressman Ryan Costello and what is going on, I think the first thing they need to do is realize that my opponent has a mortgage foreclosure. He is in a bad way," Costello said. "What he says as to who he is as a business man and what he does are way different."

A check with the Office of the Clerk on Friday indicated that Parrish's financial disclosure statement is still not on record.

A spokesman for Parrish said on Friday the foreclosure issue has been resolved with Wells Fargo Bank, as Parrish works to sell the home. Campaign manager Joe Bachman also repeated the claim that Parrish did not file his financial disclosure statement because he failed to receive a packet of information the Office of the Clerk sends to candidates after they file with the Federal Election Commission.

Bachman explained that Parrish is still putting together his financial disclosure statement, which he called complex, and has been in touch with the Office of the Clerk for clarification on a couple of points. The interruption of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and other campaign obligations have also slowed the process, he said.

Bachman admitted that the campaign's financial situation is not ideal and that it is running a debt with payment owed to some vendors and back pay to some staff, including himself. However, he said fundraising has picked up in recent weeks and the debt listed on the last financial report has already been reduced.

Costello is "making a mountain out of mole hill" with his repeated accusation that Parrish's finances are in disarray, and is trying to distract voters from his support of Trump, Bachman said.

"My opponent is clearly desperate to do anything to change the subject away from his support for Donald Trump for president, including pathetic attempts to create a news story where none exists," he said. "If I had sold out our community the way Mr. Costello has, I would want to change the subject too. Mr. Costello has serious questions to answer regarding why he would put party before country and support a nominee for president who is obviously dangerous to the United States and its allies."

In defending Parrish, Bachman made some financial accusations of his own, stating that Costello, whose latest campaign finance report shows he has $1.4 million on hand, is backed by special interests.

"If my opponent wants to talk about finances, let's start there, with the massive contributions he has received from special interests and a voting record that demonstrates that he puts those same special interests ahead of his constituents," Bachman said. "A congressman who has sold out our community and put party and special interests ahead of the people he was elected to represent, that's the real story."

This article is part of a content-sharing partnership between WITF and the Lebanon Daily News.

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