McKee Takes Campaign Finance Challenge to RI Superior Court
Monday, August 18, 2014
The Board of Elections rejected his appeal earlier this month to the initial ruling that he could not use the prior funds. Now, McKee is filing the suit - and a temporary restraining order -- in order to both access over $60,000 in funds that are currently restricted, and set a precedent for future elections.
"We think we have a strong case," said McKee. "At the [Board of Elections] hearing, to the person on the board, they acknowledged it was not fair to let one candidate be constrained to a two year cycle, and allow an opponent be on a four year one. It was clear they saw our argument." McKee's appeal was rejected 5 to 2.
"The ruling kept us off TV for a week," added McKee.
Lawsuit, Restraining Order Filed
While McKee currently has close to $109,960 on hand as of August 11, he currently can't use the more than $60,000 he still had from when he ran for Mayor of Cumberland in 2012.
Despite getting voted down by the Board of Elections, McKee's lawyer, Paul Sullivan, is filing a suit in Superior Court on behalf of McKee against the Board of Elections to address the "uneven playing field that the Board's regulation pertaining to matching public funds has created."
"There's a conflict between the statute and the regulation," said McKee. "The statute speaks to the four year cycle, and the regulation speaks to the discrepancy between two and four year cycles."
"The temporary restraining order would allow [McKee] access to that money," said McKee campaign manager Mike Trainor. "We hope we can get a ruling on this shortly. The lawsuit is more for the benefit of future candidates, so that this doesn't happen moving forward.'
"Once you know something like this that's not right, you need to take a stand," said McKee, nothing that Mollis had faced similar constraints when we ran for statewide office after serving as Mayor of North Providence.
Mollis previously told GoLocal, "I think the law has its pros and cons, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. If people gave [McKee] money when he was running for Mayor unopposed in 2012, did they think it was going towards a run for higher office? I think he should have been aware of the letter of the law going into this year's race. I know I did."
McKee said that when he explained the situation to voters, he "nearly always got the same reaction."
"When I talk with folks about this, the residents of RI have resoundingly said it's unfair, and should be fixed," said McKee. "Not just for me, but for all candidates."
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