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Gaughan airs first of two TV ads in campaign for Erie County comptroller

Kevin P. Gaughan, the Democratic candidate for Erie County comptroller, has released the first of two television ads that his campaign plans to air before his Tuesday showdown with Republican incumbent Stefan I. Mychajliw.

The 30-second ad, also on YouTube, features Gaughan discussing his record on government reform as a citizen activist, which he said has helped save local taxpayers $50 million over 10 years.

“I’ve saved our community more money as a private citizen than my opponent has as a politician,” Gaughan says in the ad.

The spot comes about a week after Mychajliw aired his first campaign commercial, which touts his record of having saved taxpayers about $500,000 his first day in office by cutting staff.

A subsequent ad by Mychajliw takes aim at Gaughan’s problems with unpaid federal income taxes.

Last week, Gaughan announced that he had settled a long-standing $28,000 debt with the Internal Revenue Service.

Gaughan said Tuesday that his campaign anticipates spending about $20,000 to air the two spots.

“That’s considerably less than my opponent,” he said.

Asked how much his campaign will spend on TV ads, Mychajliw declined to say. “I can’t tell you that,” he said.

After speculating that Gaughan’s TV ad budget was more likely in the neighborhood of $14,000 to $15,000, Mychajliw boasted that the budget for his own ads was “significantly larger” than Gaughan’s.

“We feel as though we have a much stronger and higher level of support than my opponent. We think the issue of his taxes really hurt his support,” Mychajliw said.

Gaughan accused the comptroller of distorting the facts in the ads that highlight Gaughan’s tax problems.

“In his 10 months in office, Mr. Mychajliw has conducted only one audit as comptroller, and that has been of my personal life. And in his commercial, he got it wrong,” Gaughan said. “The ad is full of outright lies and exaggerations.”

Gaughan said he is not all that enamored of TV ads because, over the years, “they have degraded politics.”

“I hope the ones we’re making stand apart from the usual political blather,” Gaughan said.

He said he aimed for the TV spots to be “as substantive and informative as possible,” without debasing his opponent.

As a candidate for Congress nearly 20 years ago, Gaughan shunned the long-standing practice of recording campaign spots for airing on TV in favor of doing live broadcasts from various local sites that would be affected by his policy proposals.

The sites for those ads included Seneca Vocational High School and the mammogram testing center at Mercy Hospital.

“I was the first candidate to do that,” Gaughan said.