Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney C. Michael Sparks said Tuesday a recent news article involving potential campaign finance law violations by Team Mingo 2012 took liberty with his statements.
“The Charleston Daily Mail used certain statements out of context and selectively omitted other statements to sensationalize the Team Mingo 2012 PAC news story,” Sparks said.
The Associated Press also distributed a version of the story, which ran in the Tuesday edition of the Williamson Daily News and The Logan Banner, that called into question four donations to the Team Mingo 2012 political action committee.
Sparks said he got an email Saturday from a pseudonym — a fictitious name used to conceal the author’s identity — and it contained a news story posted on a document-sharing website similar to YouTube. In the email, the anonymous author said: “Lesson in campaign finance law may be on tap for Art Kirkendoll, John Perdue, Harry Keith White, Walt Helmick & Mark Wills.”
Sparks said that as the Mingo County Prosecuting Attorney, “it was important to prevent unfounded innuendo that I was connected with unconfirmed campaign finance law violations [even minor technical violations], which was my primary purpose for sending a response email.”
On Tuesday, Sparks issued a statement to the Williamson Daily News:
“I cannot emphasize enough that I have the utmost confidence in the integrity of Team Mingo 2012 PAC officers and the officials that allegedly made improper contributions to the Team Mingo 2012 PAC. I firmly believe that any technical violation of a campaign finance law was unintentional and will be remedied. In fact, I strongly suspect that technical violations of this particular campaign finance law is widespread throughout West Virginia since it is actually legal to contribute to a PAC from a previous campaign account.”
“The Team Mingo County 2012 PAC and the officials that contributed to the Team Mingo 2012 PAC should not be exploited and sullied for an unintentional technical violation of a campaign finance law unconnected to the current controversy in Mingo County.”
Jake Glance, spokesman for Secretary of State Natalie Tenant’s office, said Tuesday that he could only speak generally about campaign finance. He said Tenant’s office investigates every single call about possible campaign finance violations.
“There are, speaking generally about the investigations that we conduct, several possible outcomes,” Glance said, adding the majority of problems they have with respect to campaign finance is with the losers of an election not filing a report or having math errors.
“If you think about all of the number of candidates that file with us for all of these seats, we have thousands of campaign finance reports,” Glance said. “People who made illegal contributions is actually pretty rare.”
Greg “Hootie” Smith is the treasurer for the Team Mingo PAC.