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Raines among two GOP candidates targeted by Dems

By Phil Kabler, Staff writer

State Democratic Party officials Monday filed legal complaints to remove two Republican House of Delegates candidates from the November general election ballot for allegedly failing to comply with residency and reporting requirements.

That includes incumbent Delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha, who state Democrats claim has failed to file campaign financial reports with the secretary of state’s office, as well as a required annual financial disclosure with the state Ethics Commission.

In a complaint filed in Kanawha Circuit Court, the state Democratic Executive Committee is asking that Raines be removed from the ballot for failing to meet the minimum requirements of a candidate.

That includes failing to file five consecutive campaign finance reports with the secretary of state, and failing to file a 2014 financial disclosure with the Ethics Commission, which was due in January.

Most recently, that includes 2014 primary campaign reports due in April, May and June.

Raines, who was first elected to the House in the four-member 35th District in 2012, finished second in the May Republican primary despite not actively campaigning following the death of her mother in March.

Candidates who do not raise or spend money must still file a short-form disclosure with the secretary of state’s office during each reporting period. The secretary of state’s office has no reports from Raines for the 2014 election cycle.

The complaint also asserts that Raines, who listed 850 Jonash Lane, St. Albans, as her place of residence when she filed for re-election, no longer lives in St. Albans.

A second complaint filed Monday in Preston Circuit Court contends that Melissa Lewis, running for the 52nd District seat currently held by Delegate Larry Williams, D-Preston, does not meet residency requirements to run for the House.

The complaint asserts that Lewis has not been a resident of Preston County for one year prior to the general election, as required under state law.

It argues that Lewis was a resident of neighboring Monongalia County as recently as November 2013, and was registered as a Democrat at the time. Lewis registered as a Republican in Preston County on Jan. 9, five days prior to filing to run for the House, according to the complaint.

In a Gazette political column published in February, Williams said he had been approached by state Republican official encouraging him to change parties, and warning that the GOP would run a candidate against him if he did not switch.

That column noted that the Reedsville address Williams lists as her residence is a rental property that became available for rental in December 2013.

Neither Raines nor Williams returned calls Monday.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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