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GOP campaign flier draws $100 fine, anger from the chief of the State Board of Elections.
From STAFF and WIRE REPORTS
RICHMOND--The State Board of Elections fined Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore's campaign $100 yesterday for mailing a deceptive flier to Virginia voters.
The action came a day before the election and three days after the board dealt the same punishment to Democrat Tim Kaine's campaign for the same violation: failing to adequately disclose who paid for the mailers.
Board Secretary Jean Jensen complained that the board "is being used for political gain." She noted that Charles Spies, a lawyer for the Republican Governors Association, blasted the Kaine flier as "dishonest and deceptive" during Friday's board meeting.
"My anger is based on the fact that by amazing coincidence, during the time Mr. Spies was addressing the board regarding dishonesty and deception, the mailer before us was being delivered to the mail boxes of Virginia voters," Jensen said.
The cover of the flier sponsored by Virginians for Jerry Kilgore features the red and blue Democratic donkey emblem over the headline: "2005 Official Democrat and Progressive Voter Guide." Inside is a seven-point comparison of Kaine to independent candidate Russ Potts, who is deemed "the only candidate who will stand up for progressive principles."
The Kaine flier that prompted the earlier complaint prominently displays the GOP elephant logo and the words "For Virginia Republicans." Inside, it repeats an anti-tax group's attack on Kilgore for failing to sign its no-tax-increase pledge or back the group's agenda.
However, the board has no authority to sanction the campaigns for questionable content or misusing logos on fliers. In both cases, the fines were for failing to conspicuously disclose the identity of the sponsors of the mailers as required by Virginia's "Stand By Your Ad" law.
On both mailings, the sponsors were named only in tiny, hard-to-read type resembling a photo credit alongside a picture.
In addition to levying the maximum fines allowed, the board referred both complaints to the Richmond commonwealth's attorney to determine whether the campaigns willfully violated campaign laws.
As the election winds down, misleading fliers aren't the only way the candidates and interest groups are trying to approach the other side's voters.
Some are using telephone calls, such as an automated call many Virginians, including some in Fredericksburg, received over the weekend.