Cox Communications Virginia spokesperson Emma Inman told Multichannel News Tuesday that the company is in "full compliance with all campaign and election laws," but would not comment further on "personnel matters." In this case the personnel matter is the latest Republican accusation leveled at Gary McCollum, candidate for state Senate.
McCollum has taken a break from heading Cox Virginia to run for the seat. He has apologized for misstating when his active military-reserve service -- he is a retired U.S. Army Ranger -- actually ended, saying that misstatement was a mistake. Republicans called for him to withdraw from the race.
This week, the story was that McCollum may have violated election law because Cox was paying him during his leave of absence to run.
The Virginian-Pilot, which broke the story about the misstatements, reported Tuesday that the Virginia Republican Party was citing financial disclosure statements to claim the McCollum should have reported the Cox payments as in-kind campaign contributions since they were paying him to run, not work.
Republican Party chairman John Whitbeck sent out two letters seeking information on "potential reporting violations," one to the state election board, the other to Cox.
Whitbeck told the board that McCollum had failed to disclose the contribution which were based on pay for "not performing any work whatsoever" on the scale of $250,000 per year. In the letter to Cox, he said the company had the duty to report the money as an in-kind campaign contribution, and that McCollum and the campaign had a duty to include that info on his disclosure forms.
McCollum campaign manager Molly Ritner was not available to comment at press time, but told the Virginian-Pilot that McCollum's Republican opponents were just trying to deflect attention from their own candidate's status as the top gift recipient in the Senate emblematic of the "pay-to-play" culture in the State Capitol.
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