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October 21, 2016

Pa. congressman's ex-wife appearing in his campaign ads

Meanwhile, his opponent is accused of harassment

Candidates' spouses can play key roles in campaigns. Michelle Obama has often been considered a huge asset. Bill Clinton may be more of a liability.

But what about ex-spouses?

In one of the more bizarre and nasty congressional campaigns this election cycle, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster's former wife is featured in a campaign ad to help him try to retain his seat serving Pennsylvania's 9th District, which covers a large portion of the southwest part of the state.

In the ad, his ex-wife, Rebecca Shuster, condemns the "misinformation" being spread about her family and ex-husband and says she'll be voting for her former spouse.

Shuster's personal life has been under the spotlight since he admitted last year that he was dating airline lobbyist Shelley Rubino. Shuster, a Republican, is chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and so questions about a potential conflict of interest were raised. Shuster and his wife divorced a year before the relationship was reported.

During their relationship, Shuster has pushed for reforms to the nation’s air traffic control system that Rubino's firm has lobbied for, according to Politico.

Shuster's opponent, Art Halvorson, a Tea Party member described as the "Ted Cruz" of Pennsylvania, who actually lost the Republican primary to Shuster but won the Democratic primary as a write-in, has used Shuster's relationship with Rubino to assail him.

Halvorson, however, has not been without controversy in the race. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Halvorson was cited for harassment on Tuesday for a two-month-old incident in which he allegedly grabbed a 22-year-old female campaign staffer working for Shuster and held her for 20 seconds to try to annoy her.

Halvorson has called the charge "false" and pleaded not guilty, saying the case was  a "hit job" orchestrated by Shuster's campaign.

Halvorson's wife, Paula Spoede Halvorson, also responded with a Facebook video defending his temperament and pointing out that Shuster lied in a campaign ad about Art Halverson when he challenged Shuster in 2014.

As for where they two stand on the presidential candidates, Shuster has been an adamant supporter of his party's candidate, Donald Trump. Halvorson has called Trump "reprehensible," but while he's technically  a Democrat, he hasn't given a clear position on the party's nominee, Hillary Clinton.