By: By Kyle Lovern
August 25, 2013
CHARLESTON — Election filings show a political action committee from Mingo County has returned $3,700 in contributions to the campaigns of four Democrats.
The reports say the “Team Mingo 2012 PAC” returned the money in early June to political campaigns for Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick, state Sen. Art Kirkendoll (Logan), state Treasurer John Perdue and former Sen. Mark Wills.
County Prosecutor Michael Sparks previously explained in May that there is a significant distinction between the Team Mingo 2012 PAC and Team Mingo 2012 ticket. The Team Mingo 2012 PAC [Political Action Committee] was a legal entity formed to raise money and make contributions to political candidates. The Team Mingo 2012 ticket was merely a political marketing concept. Campaign finance records show that Sparks did not make a contribution to or receive a contribution from the Team Mingo 2012 PAC.
Sparks has requested that a special prosecuting attorney be appointed to consult with the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Office, if needed. In connection with formal complaints of election law violations, Sparks voluntarily disqualified the Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office pursuant to Rule 1.7 (b) of the West Virginia Rules of Professional Conduct and to avoid any appearance of impropriety.
Sparks is not alleged to have committed any election law violation and is not under investigation by the West Virginia Secretary of State. He told the Williamson Daily News Friday that temporary Judges John L. Cummings or Thomas McHugh would grant the request for a special prosecuting attorney this week.
Mingo County 2012 PAC treasurer Greg “Hootie” Smith, a Mingo County commissioner, has said he didn’t know contributions from a candidate’s campaign to an unaffiliated PAC were not allowed.
Election filings also show state Delegate Justin Marcum, D-Mingo, accepted $500 from the Team Mingo 2012 PAC in early January to reimburse him for fireworks, but Marcum returned the money to the PAC in June.
Republican Party activist and Ohio University sports broadcaster Rob Cornelius had filed a complaint with the secretary of state’s office about the contributions.
Secretary of state spokesman Jake Glance has said campaigns of active candidates cannot make donations to unaffiliated PACs such as Team Mingo PAC.
Election filings show the Team Mingo 2012 PAC returned $1,000 to the Kirkendoll, Perdue and Helmick campaigns and $700 to the Wills campaign. Those campaigns contributed to Team Mingo PAC before the 2012 election.
Helmick, Perdue and Kirkendoll won their elections. Wills lost to Mercer County Republican Bill Cole.
(The Associated Press contributed to this article.)