On Monday, Delegate Stacey Plaskett filed with the Federal Election Commission complaining of her primary opponent, V.I. Sen. Ronald Russell’s lack of any federal filings. And Tuesday, write-in GOP candidate Gordon Ackley weighed in through his campaign spokesperson Dennis Lennox, saying Plaskett has had to pay fines for filing reports late.
Plaskett filed a formal complaint Monday with the Federal Elections Commission against her Democratic primary opponent, Sen. Ronald Russell saying he has yet to submit any of the required filings to be a federal candidate.
Reached by phone Monday afternoon, Russell acknowledged a mix-up and said he had spoken with FEC officials and was given 48 ours to rectify his filings. (See Related Link below)
“Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones," Ackley said in a statement provided by Lennox. He went on to say "Plaskett has repeatedly violated federal campaign finance laws, resulting in thousands of dollars in fines from the bipartisan Federal Election Commission.”
“Not only has Congresswoman Plaskett failed to get the Postal Service to issue a Virgin Islands stamp for the 100th Transfer Day, but she has failed to follow basic campaign finance requirements of running for office,” Ackley said.
Ackley cited several Federal Election Commission records that he said show Plaskett’s campaign committee paid fines of $1,000 on Sept. 18, 2015; $1,000 on Sept. 29, 2015; $2,000 on May 27, 2015; $1,750 on Oct. 1, 2014; and $250 on Sept. 11, 2013.
According to the FEC, all of the fines were for submitting campaign disclosure forms late. They are all what the FEC terms "administrative fines," and are not criminal penalties. They are essentially large late fees.
Reached for comment, Plaskett spokesperson Richard Motta said “we find it strange that a spokesperson for a Republican, who is not recognized as a candidate by the V.I. Board of Elections, is speaking out for Mr. Russell ahead of the Democratic Primary. Frankly, it raises more questions about their motives than anything else.”
“There is also no comparison in this case. While we have, in fact, dealt with any issues that may have arisen with the Federal Election Commission; Candidate Russell has failed to even register with the FEC as a candidate.”
“This is a very important difference,” Motta continued. “Russell has filed nothing at all with the Federal Elections Commission, not one official filing or Campaign Finance Report, as required by law, and if his answer to these facts continues to be that it was an ‘oversight’ – it raises serious questions about his qualifications to serve."
Asked whether Ackley was recognized as a candidate, Lennox said Ackley was selected by the delegates to the Republican Territorial Convention as the Republican nominee for Congress and has complied with federal requirements. But, he said, "the Democrat-controlled Joint Board of the Elections then refused to certify the nominees selected during the Republican Territorial Convention. They claimed nominees had to be selected during the primary."
Instead of taking the matter to court, "Ackley complied with all requirements of write-in candidate under territorial elections law. He was unopposed. As a result, assuming he at least received one vote, he would automatically be placed on the general election ballot," Lennox said.
Supervisor of Elections Caroline Fawkes broadly confirmed Lennox’ account.
"He is a write-in candidate, so he will not be on the ballot," Fawkes said Tuesday. She said that after the Joint Boards of Elections did not approve the party’s request to place him on the ballot, "his only option to participate in the general election was as a write-in candidate."
Candidates on the ballot had to register by May 17 and supply nominating petitions. Write-in candidates can declare their intent to run up to 10 days before an election and do not need signatures, Fawkes said.
According to FEC filings available online, Plaskett has received $138,027 in individual contributions and $90,599 in contributions from other committees, for a total of $228,627 so far this election cycle. Ackley has reported he has received $0 and has borrowed $3,857 to date. Russell had no FEC listing accessible online as of Tuesday evening.