Campaign records show a Republican communications firm with ties to U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and GOP county executive candidate D. Raja handled Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's unprecedented local attack ads on mayoral candidate Bill Peduto.
Spending reports after the May 21 primary were filed more than two weeks ago but it takes a while for them to make it through the system in Harrisburg. A look at the report by Ravenstahl's "Committee for a Better Pittsburgh" shows that he used Pittsburgh's Cold Spark Media to handle his attack ads on Peduto in the last weeks of the Democratic mayoral primary, paying the firm $31,300* 10 days before the primary for "TV production."
(UPDATE: *Astute political friends of Early Returns note this is probably the standard 15% commission for handling political buys.)
That does not necessarily mean Cold Spark created the ads attacking Peduto -- Early Returns is on record guessing GOP strategist John Brabender did them -- but it may have coordinated them. As we already knew the buys were placed with local stations by SRCP Media in Virginia, which also did the "Swift Boat" ads against presidential candidate John Kerry.
Cold Spark's Mark Harris had no comment.
There is little else of note in the June 20 filing. Ravenstahl funded the PAC (in the latest filing) with $110,000 from his campaign account and after $111,000 in spending it was left with $234 in cash. The mayor's reelection committee apparently has not filed a post-primary report with the Allegheny County elections division.
UPDATE: The latest report shows a May 8 payment of $78,300 to SRCP for a media buy. Add that to the $150,000 previously paid to the firm (reflected in this earlier report) and Ravenstahl paid at least $228,000 to attack his longtime rival, or $258,000 if you count the money paid to Cold Spark.
Ravenstahl's mayoral committee put a total of $260,000 into his attack PAC: it forwarded $150K to the Committee for a Better Pittsburgh in late April and early May, and then another $110K on May 7.