By Charlie Deitch
PITTSBURGH — Heather Kass, a Democratic candidate in an Allegheny County state House race to fill the seat being vacated by Rep. Harry Readshaw, is apparently staying in the race — despite Facebook posts that many local Democratic committee members and public officials called “troubling.”
On her candidate Facebook page, Kass Wrote:
“Yes, I did make a post 5 years ago when I was frustrated and mad because I found out I had to pay 5,500.00 for a medical bill. I regret that I did that and pledge that if elected I will support the Democratic Party ideals, Labor, and will support the United States Constitution and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“Not in my defense I am sure everyone has said things they regret. I regret I did that since that is completely out of character for me.”
The Pittsburgh Current reached out to Kass several times in the past few days and after her message was posted, sent a text asking her to address the criticism about other posts, including those that are negative toward drug addicts and the LGBTQ community. We also inquired about her support of President Donald Trump and his policies.
There has been no response so far.
The Pittsburgh Current first reported the story on January 20, after receiving tips about the posts. Her candidacy was announced on Facebook along with a photo of herself with Readshaw and Pittsburgh City Councilor Anthony Coghill. The two had initially endorsed her.
After reading the Current’s report, Coghill said he had withdrawn his support. Kass recently announced she’d be vying for the endorsement of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee to replace Readshaw.
She will face disability-rights activist and community organizer Jessica Benham, who has been campaigning for the seat since last fall. There has been no word on Readshaw’s endorsement, but the picture has been removed from her page.
“I wasn’t aware of any of these posts,” Coghill said Monday night. “I know Heather to be a nice person. I was surprised by this, but I was also disturbed by these posts. ” I have to withdraw my support. It’s nothing personal, but the things said in these posts are not at all in line with my values.”
Among the posts’ contents are comments that appear to be pro-Donald Trump, unsympathetic and angry toward those on public assistance, pro-gun and unsympathetic toward opioid addicts. The posts are making some Democrats uncomfortable about how Kass might govern if elected.
Among the posts were particularly cruel posts about opioid addicts, a group Kass told WESA-FM’s Chris Potter that she was eager to help if elected and deserved more sympathy.
“This is bullshit freaking junkies get everything we should just make the drugs legal let them OD and less shit in the world… I don’t want to hear that I don’t know what it’s like and that people have a sickness.. I have been on pain meds for severe health issues for years…I purposely choose to be on the lowest dosage possible and NEVER become addicted… So give me a break… I am also severely allergic to bees and need to carry this meds and I have to pay out the ass while junkies get all their shit for free for fucking years.. Grow a set and get clean.”
Pittsburgh City Councilor Bruce Kraus, who has been sober for 32 years following drug and alcohol addictions, called Kass’ comments appalling.
Charlie Deitch is editor of the Pittsburgh Current, where this story first appeared.