Pa. Dem Uses Gun Felon as Character Witness in Campaign Ad

Scott Wallace touts support of man who pled guilty to illegal machine-gun possession

Scott Wallace / Scott Wallace for Congress
October 17, 2018

Scott Wallace, the Democratic candidate in Pennsylvania's first district, released an ad late last week that features a man who pleaded guilty to illegal possession and sale of a machine gun.

The ad in question, titled "Orange," features a man identified as Jim Thomson of Levittown, Pa. On Saturday, the National Republican Congressional Committee put out a press release saying he is the same man who pleaded guilty to illegal possession and sale of a machine gun in New Jersey in 1999.

In a conversation with the Washington Free Beacon, Thomson confirmed his record. "It was a very, very costly mistake. Now, 20 years later everybody is bringing it up to ruin my life. It happened 20 years ago. I haven't had a parking ticket in my entire life other than that."

Wallace has made appeals for strict new gun-control laws a centerpiece of his campaign to unseat Republican representative Brian Fitzpatrick. He has attacked the National Rifle Association and called for new gun bans throughout his campaign.

"Donald Trump, Brian Fitzpatrick, and their friends at the NRA won't like the new television ad we're putting on the airwaves, but I don't care if it pisses them off," Wallace said in an email promoting an April ad advocating for new gun control. "We need leaders with a backbone who will stand up to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and who will stop guns from getting into the hands of people with mental illness by requiring universal background checks. If you're angry at the politicians in Washington, D.C., who protect the gun lobby instead of our kids, then I urge you to watch this video and share it with your friends to spread the word about our campaign."

Republicans said Wallace's ad is evidence of the candidate's hypocrisy.

"Apparently, Scott Wallace didn't think illegally obtaining and handing off a machine gun was enough to disqualify someone from representing him," Chris Martin, a committee spokesperson, told the Free Beacon. "This blatant hypocrisy from a Washington insider is the reason Wallace's campaign has been treading water since the day he announced."

The "Orange" ad was intended to respond to a Free Beacon story detailing Wallace's financial support for the legal defense of a number of Guantánamo Bay detainees in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks. Despite the ad declaring questions about "Wallace's patriotism" to be "garbage and total lies" as well as labeling the Free Beacon a "fake news source," the ad did not directly address Wallace's funding for the Guantánamo detainees. Instead, the ad focused on Wallace's unrelated work as general counsel for the Senate Committee on Veterans' Affairs decades earlier.

The Wallace campaign did not return a request for comment.