April 14, 2000

Harley flatly denies links to smear calls
By Tom Murse A political consultant who did work for Kevin Harley's state House campaign allegedly paid for last-minute negative telephone calls against two of the candidate's April 4 primary opponents. Harley, however, emphatically rebuffs speculation that he was behind the calls. "I had no knowledge of those phone calls. I had nothing to do with those phone calls. My campaign did not pay for those phone calls...and my campaign did not authorize those phone calls," Harley said this morning. Chester County consultant Donald Raymond, vice president and treasurer of Raymond & Cliggett Inc., hired Eagle Consulting Group to make the calls, Eagle president Christopher Nicholas said this morning. Raymond & Cliggett, whose listed address is in Phoenixville, also produced television, radio and mail advertisements for Harley during the campaign. The calls, on the eve of the election, accused fellow Republican candidate Tom Creighton of wrongdoing as a township supervisor and suggested, indirectly, that candidate Marc Lemon was behind the calls. Lemon, who has suggested the Harley campaign might be responsible, fired off a letter to county, state and federal officials, charging that the calls were false, fraudulent and defamatory. He has also vowed to file suit against Harley and those who made the calls. To date, however, he has not revealed what evidence, if any, he has for the charge. District Attorney Donald Totaro has ordered an inquiry to determine whether election laws or criminal laws were broken by consultants who ordered the 2,800 negative phone calls to voters in the 37th House District. The probe is only in its initial stages -- to determine whether laws were broken and, if so, who was responsible. Asked about the investigation, Harley said, "He can look into it. I have nothing to worry about." Nicholas said he was unaware of who Raymond was representing when he requested Eagle's services. Nicholas said he didn't ask, either. "I've known Don, Mr. Raymond, for a long time. When he said make the calls, off we went," Nicholas said. Raymond provided the scripts and vouched for their authenticity, Nicholas said. "Besides representing himself, no, he didn't say it was on behalf of anybody," Nicholas said. But, he added, "I knew he wasn't working for Marc Lemon." Neither Raymond nor his attorney could be reached for comment. Eagle then contracted Virginia-based Conquest Communications to make the calls on April 3.

The calls said that candidate Tom Creighton had used his political influence to avoid paying for needed improvements at a subdivision he had developed. The callers then told voters to cast their ballots for another candidate, Marc Lemon. Creighton won the primary. Creighton said the calls mixed bits of truth with inaccuracies that cast a negative light on him. "There's a shred of truth, but they twist it," Creighton said this morning. "It said Creighton wants to do all these bad things. I never wanted to do that." The calls "certainly don't make me look good," Creighton said. Lemon said he's still considering legal action, but would rather hear an apology from Raymond and whoever instructed him to have the calls made. "I'm disappointed that, in light of all the evidence that has come to the forefront...that (those responsible) simply will not come clean, tell the truth and apologize so that everyone can just put this behind us and move on," Lemon said.

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