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W.Va. election officials looking into Mingo donations

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia election officials are investigating whether several candidates illegally contributed funds to a political action committee formed to help Democrats get elected in Mingo County last year, the committee's treasurer said Tuesday.

The Team Mingo 2012 PAC does not qualify for such contributions under a state law that limits how a candidate's campaign committee can spend its money. Mingo County Commissioner Greg Smith, the PAC's treasurer, said the Secretary of State's Office told him Tuesday it was reviewing a complaint about Team Mingo's contributions.

Rob Cornelius, an Ohio University sports broadcaster and Republican activist, told The Associated Press and other media Tuesday that he filed the complaint.

Team Mingo received $3,300 -- more than a third of its funding -- from four candidates: state Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick, state Treasurer John Perdue and state Sens. Mark Wills and Art Kirkendoll. Each of these candidates won in November except Wills, and both his district and Kirkendoll's include parts of Mingo County.

Wills' campaign treasurer did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Officials with Helmick and Kirkendoll's campaigns said the money was for advertising or get-out-the-vote efforts. A Perdue campaign spokesman, George Manahan, noted that its campaign listed its $1,000 contribution as going to Mingo County's Democratic Executive Committee, which has the kind of PAC allowed to receive candidates' funds.

Smith said he was unaware of the prohibition in state law. He and the campaigns' officials said they would heed any ruling by Secretary of State Natalie Tennant.

Tennant spokesman Jake Glance said their office reviews all election or campaign finance allegations it receives but declines to comment on specific complaints.


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