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Democratic operative files election complaint against Jackson County delegate

By Eric Eyre, Staff writer
Westfall

A West Virginia Democratic operative has filed an election complaint against Jackson County Delegate Steve Westfall, alleging the GOP House member received illegal campaign contributions from two companies and failed to report personal loans properly.

In 2012, Westfall accepted $300 from Collision Specialists, a Ripley auto body shop, and $100 form Longview Land Services of Evans, according to the complaint. State law prohibits candidates from taking money from corporations.

“Delegate Steve Westfall accepted illegal contributions, gave his campaign unauthorized loans, and executed unlawful expenditures,” said Patrick Hensley, caucus director of the West Virginia Democratic House Legislative Committee, who filed the complaint at the secretary of state’s office.

Westfall said the complaint was much ado about nothing, and the state Democratic Party was “stretching” to find something wrong in his campaign filings.

“We’re talking about $400 over two years ago,” he said. “I have nothing to hide, that’s for sure.”

Westfall said the $300 contribution from Collision Specialists was legal because the body shop is a limited liability company, or LLC, not a corporation.

“I understand my campaign could accept contributions from an LLC,” he said.

Collision Specialists is listed as a corporation, according to records filed with the secretary of state’s business licensing division.

Westfall said he would return the $100 contribution to Longview Land Services, if the secretary of state’s office directs him to do so.

“It was from a friend of mine,” Westfall said. “If I need to return that $100, I’ll give it back.”

Hensley’s complaint also alleges that Westfall failed to file copies of loan agreements with his campaign finance reports when he gave $2,500 to his campaign in 2012. State law says, “ ... all loans shall be evidenced by a written agreement executed by the lender, whether the candidate, his or her spouse, or the lending institution.”

Westfall also filled out six “short form” campaign finance reports that stated his campaign committee didn’t accept any loans, according to the complaint.

Westfall said he didn’t believe he was required to file additional paperwork about the loans.

“It wasn’t like a bank loan,” he said. “I loaned myself money, I paid myself back. I’ve done what most people do.”

Westfall is running against Democrat Mike Bright for the House of Delegates 12th District seat.

In recent months, state GOP operatives have filed multiple ethics complaints against House Democrats.

The Democrats face their biggest challenge in decades for control of the House of Delegates, where all 100 seats are up for election in November. Republicans trail Democrats by six seats.

Reach Eric Eyre at ericeyre@wvgazette.com, 304-348-4869 or follow @EricEyre on Twitter.


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