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Campaign reform is not rabblerousing

IN the good old days when political corruption ruled the state, Democratic Party candidates paid off local political bosses to get placed on their slates.

Gazette Editor Jim Haught recalled the role of slates in his story commemorating the 50th anniversary of Jack Kennedy winning the 1960 West Virginia Primary over Hubert Humphrey.

"Logan political boss Raymond Chafin wrote in his autobiography, 'Just Good Politics,' that Humphrey agents first gave him $2,500 for slate access - but Kennedy agents offered more," Haught wrote.

"When they asked how much money would be required, Chafin told them 'about 35,' meaning $3,500. But the JFK agents misunderstood and sent him two suitcases containing $35,000. Chafin was flabbergasted.

"His sidekick, Bus Perry, blurted, 'I've already been in the penitentiary once. I'm not going back.'

"Chafin said he calmed Perry and phoned Kennedy headquarters to report the error, but was told to put the cash to good use. He put it to bad use."

People can guffaw today, but slate-making thwarted democracy. Eventually the state changed the law and the practice fell out of favor.

But Democrats may be re-creating the slate by using "independent" political action committees.

The Team Mingo 2012 PAC received money from Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick, state Sen. Art Kirkendoll, Treasurer John Perdue and state Senate candidate Mark Wills - even though state law prohibits candidates from doing so.

Eleven days after a story by the Daily Mail's Dave Boucher pointed this out, the PAC returned the money to the candidates.

That is like robbing a bank and when caught simply returning the money. The money unduly influenced the election last fall. There should be penalties.

Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, dismissed as rabblerousing complaints filed by Rob Cornelius, spokesman for the West Virginia Young Republicans.

As interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court, states cannot and should not encumber with regulations independent political groups such as Citizens United, as long as they remain unaffiliated with any political candidate.

But politicians should not be allowed to use this as a way to dodge legitimate laws against slate making.


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