Numerous campaigns report contributions above the legal limit, say they will amend filings

By Stephen Baldwin, RealWV

West Virginia state election law allows citizens to donate up to $2,800 in the primary and another $2,800 in the general election to candidates for office.

Yet the latest round of campaign finance reports posted by several candidates includes reported contributions above the legal limit.

Ashley Deem

Judicial candidate Ashley Deem’s campaign finance reports show that Mark Blankenship contributed $3,300 total in two separate donations, which is above the legal limit. He gave $2,800 on September 26, 2023, according to the third quarter report. Then on December 31, 2023, the report says he gave an additional $500, according to the fourth quarter report.

Reached for comment, Deem’s treasurer Larry Pack, Jr, said it was a “clerical mistake” on his part as the $500 donation should have been attributed to Shari Blankenship. Pack said he would file an amended report.

Deem’s other donors, who were at the maximum level or below, include prominent political figures including Don Blankenship, Greg Thomas, Eric Tarr, Doug Skaff, and Bill Cole.

Chris Miller

Nick Preservati of Huntington contributed $1,041.02 to Christ Miller’s primary campaign for governor on March 27, 2023. Then on November he gave another $2,800, which combined with his earlier contribution is more than $1,000 over the legal limit.

The Miller campaign did not respond to a request for comment.

Mac Warner

An Alabama man was listed as donating over $5,700 to Mac Warner’s campaign. He was reported as giving Mac Warner’s gubernatorial campaign two donations on December 18, 2023, of $2,914.84 each for the primary election.

According to Warner’s campaign manager, this was an “oversight” on the report. The Alabama man made a single donation of $2,914.84 with $2,800 going to the primary election and $114.84 going to the general election. An amended report will reflect that in the near future.

Patrick Morrisey

A Georgia man is reported as giving Morrisey over $5,500 for the primary alone with multiple donations in multiple months. Two additional female members of his family also gave maximum donations. The Morrisey campaign contends that two different Georgia men with the same name donated from the same household, each below the maximum amount. They say it’s a father and son with the same name.

“We have invested heavily in compliance and consistently act in compliance with the law,” said Taylor VanKirk, Director of Communications for the Morrisey campaign. “We employ a compliance firm and a law firm to assist us.”

Additionally, while the Secretary of State requires candidates to report contributions of $250 or less and $250 or more separately, Morrisey’s report co-mingles them all together. This reporting structure leads to situations such as a Michigan man who is reported to have given Morrisey $1 on 195 separate occasions, including several times in a single day, being paired beside large donors on the reports.

“Our fundraising reports are so large and the system isn’t built to handle several dozen pages of contributions and organize them properly,” says Van Kirk.

The Morrisey report can be found here.

“It’s important that we be held to a high standard,” said Jerry Wood of the Warner campaign, “and we appreciate the accountability.”

State administrative law allows the Secretary of State to enforce a daily fine upon any candidate who files “grossly inaccurate” contribution forms. Candidates also have a certain time period under which they can amend and resubmit their forms for accuracy.

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