Shapiro Campaign Questions Fliers Linking Zappala, Black Lives Matter

Shapiro's campaign has been running a radio ad calling the campaign materials a "hoax." Zappala's camp says they have nothing to do with them.

Josh Shapiro (left) and Stephen Zappala. Photos | Matt Rourke, AP

Josh Shapiro (left) and Stephen Zappala. Photos | Matt Rourke, AP

File this under “Campaign Materials of Unknown Origin.”

In Philadelphia today, voters have been coming across T-shirts, sweatshirts, and fliers carrying the banner of the Black Lives Matter movement — and that encourage them to vote for Stephen Zappala for state attorney general. The schwag bears no “paid for by” line, so it’s not clear where it’s coming from. But the campaign of Josh Shapiro, the Montgomery County Commissioner who has a lead in the latest polling, is calling foul.

On Tuesday, Shapiro’s campaign put out a radio ad “warning” voters not to believe the affiliation between Zappala’s campaign and the Black Lives Matter movement:

“Today at polling places across Philadelphia, people are being paid to wear racially offensive t-shirts that try to link the Black Lives Matter movement to Steve Zappala,” the ad says. “… Don’t be fooled. This is a hoax.”

Efforts to reach the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania chapters of the Black Lives Matter movement were unsuccessful Tuesday, but the groups are not in the very frequent habit of endorsing candidates for political office.

Marty Marks, Zappala’s campaign manager, said he has no idea where the campaign materials are coming from, while noting that Zappala is endorsed by black clergy groups in Philadelphia.

Political consultant Frank Keel said it wasn’t produced by Local 98, the electricians union led by John Dougherty, which has endorsed Zappala for attorney general over Shapiro and Northampton County D.A. John Morganelli. Local 98 put out a dozen T-shirt designs for Election Day, Keel said, but claims none of them mention Black Lives Matter.

This is significant for a couple of reasons. First, Zappala has taken heat over a racially charged ad earlier in his campaign. Second, he’s recently come under fire in a Shapiro ad suggesting that Zappala, as D.A. in Allegheny County, had gone easy on five white men who were caught on video assaulting a black man at a Pittsburgh train station last year.

Meanwhile, the Fraternal Order of Police, which has endorsed Democrat Shapiro and Republican John Rafferty in the attorney general’s race, was bothered by the campaign materials as well.

“It should be ‘All Lives Matter,” FOP president John McNesby told Philly Mag on Tuesday afternoon.

“I saw what he’s putting out and we don’t believe it’s something that should be advertised,” McNesby said.

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