Delaware election commissioner rules on treatment of contributions in treasurer’s race

 (Sean Barney/Facebook)

(Sean Barney/Facebook)

The Delaware election commissioner has ruled that Democratic treasurer candidate Sean Barney will be allowed to receive campaign contributions from donors who already made a maximum donation during the primary.

Under the election rules, candidates are allowed to receive the maximum donation, $1,200, during the primary election period, if they have an opponent in the primary. They can also receive up to $1,200 per donor during the general election period.

If the candidate does not have a challenger during the primary, they can only receive up to $1,200 per donor which is reported in the general election period.

Barney technically ran unopposed for the democratic treasurer nomination in the September 9 primary, meaning any money he has received can only be reported in the general election period.

However, Barney had been raising and spending money for the primary because he had been running against democratic opponent, Treasurer Chip Flowers, up until the end of August, when Flowers suddenly dropped out of the race.

Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove said she’ll allow Barney’s campaign to receive contributions from those who already made a maximum donation during the primary because Barney had been running in the primary against an opponent.

“The Barney Committee acted in good faith, relying on the filing of Mr. Flowers to run for State Treasurer, to raise and spend money for the primary election,” stated the advisory opinion. “The Flowers-Barney primary election was canceled souley due to action by Mr. Flowers – withdraw from the race – fewer than two weeks before the primary election.”

Barney’s Campaign Manager, Andrew Wilson, said he thinks the decision is fair under the circumstances.

“It was an interesting situation that was without precedent in Delaware and commissioner Manlove took the facts that were in front of her and came out with what we thought was a reasonable interpretation of the statue,” said Wilson.

John Fluharty, executive director of the Delaware GOP, said the ruling sets a “dangerous precedent” for campaign finance laws.

“The law is clear on this issue when it says ‘for a candidate in a general election who was nominated for such office in a primary election, the election period shall end on the date of the primary and the next election period shall begin on the day after the primary,’” said Fluharty in a statement. “Chip Flowers name was removed from the ballot leaving only Mr. Barney’s name as a choice in the Democratic Primary. From the moment that Mr. Flowers withdrew his name from the ballot there was no primary.”

If the GOP challenges Manlove’s opinion, they’ll have to get an official ruling from a judge.

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