The campaign to elect Republican Chris Wakim to the First Congressional District of West Virginia filed a Federal Election Commission complaint Thursday alleging that Democrat incumbent Alan Mollohan coordinated illegally with a 527 political group.
The Mollohan campaign denies the accusation, calling the complaint a "fairy tale."
Federal law prohibits any coordination between campaigns and 527 organizations, which are allowed to raise and spend an unlimited amount of money to advocate for or against candidates but may not expressly say "vote for" or "vote against" a certain candidate.
The complaint states that Jeffrey Burum, the principal donor to West Virginia Values, a 527 political group running anti-Wakim television ads, is the cochairman of the National Housing Development Corp., which has allegedly received $31 million from the federal government through Mollohan earmarks over the past five years.
Burum also sits on the board of directors of the Vandalia Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Mollohan, says the complaint. The foundation has received $28 million through Mollohan earmarks over the past five years, says the complaint, and Burum and his corporation have directly donated in excess of $20,000 to Mollohan's political committees or his family foundation since 2002.
"It is probable, in light of the long relationship and vast sums of money that Mollohan has directed to Burum's organizations (and vice versa), that coordination between them has occurred," says the complaint. The complaint argues that the $55,000 allegedly spent by West Virginia Values against Wakim constitutes an in-kind contribution because of the possible coordination and therefore exceeds the spending limit for political donations. No concrete evidence of any actual communication between the Mollohan campaign and the 527 group or Burum about the 527 group's activities was described.
Gerry Griffith, campaign manager for Mollohan, says there has been no coordination between the campaign and any 527 group, including West Virginia Values. Mollohan has communicated with Burum, says Griffith, but never about the group's activities. Burum's office did not respond to requests for comment.
West Virginia Values was founded by several state political players including Lane Bailey, a former staffer for Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.