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City police union takes issue with Peduto's campaign ad featuring actors wearing officer uniforms

| Friday, April 26, 2013, 4:15 p.m.
Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
An image of Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Bill Peduto walking with men who appear to be city police officers in his latest TV ad is “deceitful,” the Pittsburgh police union said on Friday, April 26, 2013.

An image of Pittsburgh mayoral candidate Bill Peduto walking with men who appear to be city police officers in his latest TV ad is “deceitful,” the Pittsburgh police union said on Friday.

“He's going to great lengths to try to show he's working with Pittsburgh police officers,” said Sgt. Michael LaPorte, president of the Fraternal Order of Police Fort Pitt Lodge No. 1. “I think it was a deceitful thing to do. They weren't police officers.”

The ad shows Peduto, a city councilman, walking with actors wearing uniforms similar to the ones city officers wear as a voice-over explains that Peduto voluntarily cut his own salary to save police jobs.

Peduto campaign spokeswoman Sonya Toler said a city regulation prohibits the use of city employees for campaign purposes and there are regulations on the use of the city seal.

“The only way around that is to use actors,” Toler said. “The voice-over is stating that Bill Peduto took a pay cut to save the jobs of police officers, so the visual is going with that.”

The FOP met with both Peduto, 48, and former state Auditor General Jack Wagner, 65 before endorsing Wagner.

Other mayoral candidates are state Rep. Jake Wheatley, 41, of the Hill District and A.J. Richardson, 36, a community activist from Sheraden.

“We want the public to know,” LaPorte said. “This is indicative of why he didn't get our endorsement.”

Peduto did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Toler does not think the ad is deceitful.

“That's their perception,” she said. “Nowhere does it say the police are endorsing Bill Peduto.”

Jerry Shuster, University of Pittsburgh professor of political communication and presidential rhetoric, said the FOP has a legitimate complaint and the ad could have sent the same message without the imagery used.

“He did not have to be walking down the street with two pseudo policemen,” he said.

The ad could backfire on Peduto, Shuster said.

“The real issue is it's just going to highlight, one more time, and at no cost to Wagner, that he does have the FOP's support.”

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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