CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In an emergency meeting Tuesday, the state Elections Commission unanimously voted to defend the constitutionality of a Supreme Court campaign public financing pilot project.
"The idea is the commission, by unanimous vote, will defend this law," commission Chairman Robert Rupp said following the meeting.
During a brief public meeting following a lengthy executive session, Rupp called for the motion, stating, "I ask that the Election Commission actively defend the constitutionality of the matching-funds law passed by the Legislature, and defend it both in the state and federal courts."
That vote came one day after state Supreme Court candidate Allen Loughry, a Republican, petitioned the high court to order the commission to release a $144,471 matching payment he is eligible to receive as part of a "rescue" provision in the state law.
Loughry, a Supreme Court clerk and the only participant in the public campaign financing project, was initially awarded $350,000 for the general election campaign, and under the law, is eligible to draw down an additional $400,000 to match spending by opponents in the general election.
On July 17, the Elections Commission deadlocked in a 2-2 tie on a motion to award a $144,471 rescue payment to Loughry, to match the $494,471 that incumbent Justice Robin Davis, a Democrat, reported spending through June 30 for the general election.
That deadlock was prompted by concerns over a 2011 U.S. Supreme Court decision that overturned a matching-funds provision in an Arizona public campaign financing law as a violation of the free-speech rights of the other candidates.