A campaign attack ad airing in Pennsylvania this week brought up Katie McGinty’s ties to a wind company that Pennsylvania outsourced jobs to Mexico. But the ad leaves out a pretty important piece: A policy pushed by McGinty’s opponent, current U.S. Senator Pat Toomey, has been partially blamed for those jobs leaving.
The ad, called “Moving,” was funded by the Senate Leadership Fund, a conservative Super PAC that is one of many outside groups pumping nearly $100 million into both sides of the state’s U.S. Senate race. It hits at a common theme—McGinty’s ties to businesses she once regulated as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Environmental Protection.
WATCH: The Senate Leadership Fund’s Anti-McGinty Ad
“McGinty steered millions in taxpayer money to a company to create jobs here,” the ad begins, referring to $20 million the state, under then-Governor Ed Rendell, gave to wind turbine manufacturer Gamesa to build facilities in Cambria and Bucks counties.
“McGinty definitely got a job, and got paid a lot,” the ad continues. “Our jobs? Plants closed and hundreds got laid off. Middle class jobs outsourced to Mexico. We got played, and McGinty got paid.”
The “job” referred to is McGinty’s board position at Iberdrola, a Spanish energy company with a major stake in Gamesa. McGinty joined Iberdrola’s board in 2009, a year after leaving her job as Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). McGinty was paid $125,000 a year for that position in 2015.
Helped by state grants and a large federal subsidy called the Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC), Gamesa employed 250 people at its Ebensburg, Pa. plant where it built industrial-scale turbine blades, some of which were placed on local wind farms.
The PTC was started in 1992 and gave wind farms a tax credit that effectively lowered wind costs by around 15 to 20 percent for customers. But Congress has let it expire several times, before reviving it. After the PTC expired in 2012, Gamesa laid off workers at its Ebensburg plant and sent some production to a company in Juarez, Mexico.
The ad emphasized this last point with a visual of the Mexican flag, but doesn’t account for one of the reasons the company cited when it moved—the expiration of the PTC.
“The lack of a PTC presents a challenge for the whole wind industry,” a Gamesa spokesman told the Allegheny Front in 2014. “Optimizing our supply chain is an important step to help us compete in a market without a PTC.”
Among the PTC’s most vocal opponents? Senator Pat Toomey.
“Senator Toomey opposes the wind credit and will try to repeal it at every opportunity,” a Toomey spokeswoman said in 2014.
“I don’t think we should force taxpayers to subsidize inefficient, uncompetitive forms of energy,” Toomey himself said. “We are simply picking winners and losers.”
Attempts to reach the Senate Leadership Fund through Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky PLLC, a Warrenton, Va.-based law firm associated with the group, were unsuccessful. The group has spent over $73 million on campaigns around the country, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
But Toomey’s campaign defended the senator’s stance against the PTC. “Pat Toomey has led the fight in the Senate to fight corporate welfare that gives wealthy businesses special favors on the taxpayer dime,” Toomey campaign spokesman Ted Kwong said in a statement. “Katie McGinty won a six-figure corporate board seat while Pennsylvania taxpayers and workers lost.”
The McGinty campaign brushed off this critique with its now-familiar characterization of Toomey as a friend of “Wall Street” and “Big Oil”. “The bottom line is that Katie was able to bring $1 billion in private investments and 3,000 good-paying jobs here to Pennsylvania during her time at DEP,” the campaign said in a statement. “Gamesa was forced to shut its doors here in Pennsylvania after Pat Toomey voted to let the wind Production Tax Credit expire.”
Whoever wins won’t have to vote on extending the wind credit for a while. Last year, Congress extended the PTC through 2019.