State Lawmakers Cleared Of Election Complaint

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The state attorney general’s office has decided not to file an election law violation complaint against the three Republicans who represent Rim Country.

Another candidate had filed the complaint against the ultimately winning slate of Sen. Sylvia Allen and representatives Brenda Barton and Chester Crandell. The complaint by losing candidate Rep. Bill Konopnicki claimed Allen and her running mates improperly or incompletely reported certain campaign expenses. The secretary of state’s office in November criticized the “sloppy record keeping” of the slate and referred the complaint to the attorney general’s office.

However, this week the attorney general’s office concluded the late reports of certain expenditures didn’t merit prosecution.

“I’m so thrilled to have that resolved,” said Sen. Sylvia Allen, who won a bitterly fought contest against Konopnicki in the Republican primary. Konopnicki had to give up his state house seat because of term limits and ran against Allen when she refused his suggestion that she run for a house seat instead.

“These (election) regulations are very nerve wracking,” said Allen, recently named to the No. 2 leadership spot in the state senate. “These regulations are very, very difficult to understand. No one is purposely wanting to break those regulations.”

Allen, Barton and Crandell will all take the oath of office on Monday and then must immediately confront a badly out-of-balance state budget.

“What is important is that (the charges) were proven to be the garbage we all said it was,” said Barton, “and now we can all turn our attention to far more important matters like balanced budgets and job creation.”

The allegations lodged by a supporter of the Konopnicki campaign claimed that the campaign filings had missed deadlines, understated expenses, failed to report shared advertisements and did not clearly indicate who paid for ads and fliers. The secretary of state’s investigation documented late filings and confusion on the cost split on some items among the three campaigns, but dismissed some of the other original complaints.

Now an investigator for the attorney general has decided that even the violations documented by the secretary of state don’t merit prosecution.

Sen. Allen said the reporting requirements have grown so burdensome and frequent and the pace of the campaign so frantic, that she couldn’t keep up with the paperwork in the swirl of the campaign.

“I was on the road five or six days a week. I would get with my campaign manager and she would enter everything, but I could only get with her weekly instead of daily. So I guess in all of that there were two things that by the time I got the invoice and got the check out, we were a few days late. So I went back and amended it and fixed it. It’s not that the money was misspent or we didn’t report that someone gave us money. So we went to the attorney general’s office and laid it all out and we had proof of everything we did. He looked at it and said, it’s no problem.”

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