Community organizer Stephen Smith offers the platform for the WV Can’t Wait movement before applying for the Democratic primary as governor in January 2020.

CHARLESTON – A progressive West Virginia group working to elect a slate of mostly Democratic candidates for government has donated thousands of direct and in-kind donations to those candidates since the May primary, but you wouldn’t know that from their campaign funding reports. .

A review of the campaign’s financial reports between late April and October 23 filed by the WV Can’t Wait Action Committee, an arm of the progressive group WV Can’t Wait co-founded by the community organizer and former Democratic primary candidate for Governor Stephen Smith, it showed no expenses from the committee for the second quarter, third quarter and general reports.

However, a review of campaign funding revelations for the same time period for 18 House of Delegate candidates and three WV Can’t Wait-approved state Senate candidates found that the committee spent $ 4,038 for $ 250 donations to 16 of those candidates. Another $ 11,612 was spent on in-kind donations to 14 of those candidates.

The reports are publicly available through the West Virginia Secretary of State’s Campaign Finance Reporting System (CFRS) online. The State Code requires every political action committee to “… keep detailed accounts of every sum of money or anything of value received … including all loans of money or anything of value and all expenses and disbursements made, or liabilities incurred, by the candidate or political committee “.

According to its general report of 2022 which covers the time period between October 1 and October 23, the WV Can’t Wait Action Committee has raised $ 3,125 for that period and $ 24,841 for the election since the beginning of the year. . The committee has a cash balance of $ 58,143. But the report itself shows no expense from the committee.

However, most WV Can’t Wait approved candidates show at least a $ 250 donation from the action committee and multiple in-kind donations, ranging from buying social media ads; coat hangers, postal envelopes and postcards; technical and personal assistance.

“Reports seem to be missing,” Donald “Deak” Kersey, chief legal counsel to the Office of the Secretary of State, said in a telephone conversation Friday morning.

“Contributions in kind are contributions and should be reported by the person providing the services or goods as an expense or contribution depending on what they have done. If they just bought mailers and coordinated that production with the candidate, it would be a thing in kind for the candidate and a committee expense. If it’s a direct donation, it’s a direct expense. It’s pretty simple in detail, “she said.

For example, Democratic candidate Andrea Greer, running in Wood County’s 13th Delegate District for an open seat, received a $ 250 direct donation from the WV Can’t Wait Action Committee and $ 2,150 in in-kind donations over the six month period. Greer confronts Republican Scott Heckert.

Mountain Party nominee Dylan Parsons is racing in a three-way race in the 7th House District. He has also received $ 250 from the WV Can’t Wait Action Committee and $ 1,301 in in-kind donations since the second quarter report was filed with the Secretary of State’s office. Parsons takes on Del. Lisa Zukoff, D-Marshall, and Republican Charles Sheedy Sr.

In an e-mailed explanation Friday morning, WV Can’t Wait co-founder Stephen Smith blamed missing spending data in the Secretary of State’s CFRS campaign financial reports for not entering their information. in online reports. Smith has provided a spreadsheet showing the action committee’s contributions and expenses since the beginning of the year.

“As always, we uploaded our full contributions and expenses data, consistent with the Secretary of State’s deadlines,” Smith said. “Unfortunately, that information is not populated correctly in the state software, and therefore in the public data.”

Smith cited previous problems with the CFRS during his run for Democratic nomination for governor in 2020. Smith outpaced his Democratic opponents by leaps and bounds with hundreds of thousands of small dollar donations, overwhelming the CFRS. Smith lost the Democratic primary to Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango, but raised over $ 975,000 in small dollar donations.

“This isn’t the first time we’ve had challenges … with the Secretary of State’s software, given the large number of contributions and expenses we report,” Smith said. “They are working on the technology now; we are waiting to hear from them on the next step on the right. We have been constantly impressed by the speed and friendliness of the staff of the Secretariat of State office, despite these technical difficulties. “

A request for comment from the Secretary of State’s office regarding Smith’s claims was not returned on Friday afternoon. But a political agent who has worked for Democratic candidates in this cycle and past cycles has questioned Smith’s claims. The agent, who declined to be named, said it doesn’t make sense that multiple campaign funding documents don’t show all expenses.

“Look, CFRS can be a hassle at times, but … everyone else makes it work,” the political agent said.

WV Can’t Wait began as an arm of Smith’s government campaign in 2019, but later joined several Democrats, Republicans, Mountain Party members, libertarians and independents to run for office in 2020 under a progressive platform. Despite Smith’s Democratic primary defeat in 2020, the group scored several wins in local competitions and saw two incumbent members of the House of Delegates and two new House candidates elected in 2020.

The WV Can’t Wait Action Committee is registered as a political action committee with the Secretary of State and the Federal Electoral Commission. It is also registered as a 527 political organization with the IRS. WV Can’t Wait also has two c-corp. non-profit organizations registered with the Secretary of State: WV Can’t Wait Votes and WV Can’t Wait Mutual Aid.

In March, WV Can’t Wait awarded 40 “Hometown Heroes” awards. Each recipient received a check for $ 2,000 to honor their charitable work in their communities. Last year, WV Can’t Wait launched, a fundraising effort to support a progressive candidate to challenge US Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., when his second term expires in 2024 or have a candidate ready if Manchin retires.

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