An environmental super political action committee released an ad that criticized congressional candidate Lisa Scheller’s company after her campaign issued a cease-and-desist letter alleging the ad’s claims were false.
The ad, paid for by the League of Conservation Voters Victory Fund, claimed Scheller’s company, Silberline Manufacturing, violated environmental protections dozens of times, paid $300,000 in fines and broke codes. environmental damage in Pennsylvania 64 times, including dumping pollutants into water and failing to properly store hazardous waste.
The cease-and-desist letter, dated Aug. 30 and written by Scheller’s campaign attorney Chris Winkelman, states, “The ad strings together a host of assertions – without any punctuation or even a significant pause – to induce mislead your viewers.”
The letter calls the claim that Scheller’s company violated environmental codes, including releasing pollutants into Pennsylvania water, “demonstrably false.”
“There is NO citation for polluting the water,” the letter reads.
Even though the LCV Victory Fund, a super PAC that supports environmentally conscious contestants, agreed to pull the ad, a spokesperson said the agency stands by the claims and plans to release another. announcement soon.
“Rather than engage in time-consuming back and forth with Lisa Scheller’s attorneys, we have chosen to remove the ad and focus our energy and funds on discussing with voters why Lisa Scheller is in discrepancy with Pennsylvania’s 7th District,” spokeswoman Emily Samsel said in a statement to The Morning Call.
Sarah Carlson, campaign manager for incumbent Democrat Susan Wild, Scheller’s opponent for the 7th congressional seat, said Wild did not authorize and was not responsible for the announcement and her accusations.
The LCV Victory Fund announced last week that it is investing a total of $2 million to support environmentally conscious Democratic candidates in several battleground districts, including Pennsylvania’s 7th.
Wild will face Republican Scheller this fall in what is expected to be a close race, with election forecaster FiveThirtyEight pricing the result as a draw.
Scheller took over as CEO of Silberline Manufacturing, a multinational pigment manufacturing company, in 1997. The company, headquartered in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County, was founded by his grandfather, Ernest Scheller, in 1945 .
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection website lists two violations for a Silberline location in Lansford, Carbon County, in 2007 and 2008 for “polluting substances permitted to discharge into Commonwealth waters”. Silberline’s Lansford plant closed in 2016.
The cease and desist letter stated that although the pollution was discovered in 2007 and 2008, it had occurred before Silberline purchased the facility.
“To the extent that any water pollution occurred, it was before 1963, when Ms. Scheller’s company acquired the facility,” the letter said.
The pollutants listed by the department are not chemicals used by Silberline, meaning they must have been present before Silberline took over, according to Pierce Fraunheim, spokesperson for Lisa Scheller’s campaign.
The cease-and-desist letter indicates, and DEP records support it, that Silberline began voluntary clearance in 2010 at the Lansford site that was continuing from 2021.
“Susan Wild’s shameless allies at the League of Conservation Voters PAC have been forced to withdraw their fake attack ad,” Scheller said in a press release. “This ad was filled with inaccuracies and lies about my local manufacturing business and our hundreds of hard-working employees.”
Other claims made by the ad, such as $300,000 in penalties and 64 Pennsylvania environmental code violations, are not directly challenged in the cease and desist letter.
Fraunheim said the way these claims are presented in the ad stretches the truth. The announcement makes Silberline a major polluter, he said, but most code violations relate to administrative issues such as timely reporting and paperwork, not pollution and mishandling of hazardous waste. .
Silberline is ISO 14,000 certified, Fraunheim said, meaning the company adheres to a set of standards established by the International Organization for Standardization that aim to reduce its negative impact on the environment.
“Voters will see through this smear campaign that falsely confuses a paperwork error with pollution,” Fraunheim said.
According to DEP, three of Silberline’s facilities, including two in Tamaqua and the since-closed location in Lansford, have committed 64 violations since Scheller took over the company in 1997.
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It’s unclear exactly what each breach is for, as the DEP doesn’t list the reasons for some.
At least 20 violations relate to administrative issues such as failure to keep required records, failure to provide information or records required by permits, and failure to submit surveillance reports or complete surveillance reports correctly.
But Silberline also has several offenses related to its handling of hazardous waste. In 2007, Silberline’s former Lansford facility was cited for dumping industrial waste without a permit, failing to follow a spill prevention response plan, and failing to meet containment requirements.
In 2006, Silberline’s facility at 36 Progress Ave, Tamaqua, was cited for improper containment and collection systems, hazardous waste containers not accurately labeled, containers not closed during storage, and waste accumulated during 90 days.
All of the aforementioned violations have since been corrected by Silberline, according to the DEP.
The Morning Call verified that Silberline had paid nearly $300,000 in penalties since 1998, including $121,000 to the DEP, $129,000 to the US Environmental Protection Agency and $54,000 to the Department of Environmental Management. the Indiana environment, where Silberline closed a facility in 2019.
Morning Call reporter Lindsay Weber can be reached at 610-820-6681 and email@example.com.