The State Board of Elections on Tuesday issued a $100 fine against GOP state House candidate Scott Wyatt, but it dismissed a complaint over a phone call promoting Wyatt that would have resulted in a $2,500 fine.
The complaints were heard, along with several others, at the board’s regular meeting at the state Capitol. Wyatt, a Republican and supervisor in Hanover County, is challenging Del. Chris Peace, R-Hanover, in what has become a fight over the method of nomination for the House seat in the 97th district.
The Department of Elections received a photo of a Wyatt campaign sign taken Feb. 25 in Mechanicsville without the required disclosure about who paid for the sign.
Tanner Bonovitch, a representative of the Wyatt campaign, told the three-member board that the sign in question had been removed and the campaign had ordered new signs with proper disclosures. The board opted to fine Wyatt $100 over the lack of disclosure on the sign in the photo.
The board also reviewed a telephone call promoting Wyatt’s candidacy. Under the law, such calls must have been made to 25 or more phone numbers and be within six months of a special or general election and within three months of a primary to qualify as a campaign phone call.
Arielle Schneider, a policy analyst for the Department of Elections, said the Wyatt campaign did not respond to a letter about the complaint after the department anonymously received a recording of the call.
“There is not a disclosure on this telephone call,” she said, noting that Wyatt’s campaign finance reports show an expenditure of more than $360 for phone calls.
The penalty for violating a campaign telephone call disclosure requirement is $2,500 per occurrence.
Without a response from the Wyatt campaign and without direct evidence that the call was made to more than 25 people, the board opted to dismiss the complaint. Bob Brink, the board chairman, said there wasn’t clear evidence that 25 or more calls were made, and the other two board members, John O’Bannon and Jamilah LeCruise, agreed.
Bonovitch, the Wyatt campaign representative, had left the hearing room before the telephone call was discussed.
In other business, the board continued a complaint received April 24 about videos promoting Joe Morrissey, a Democrat challenging Sen. Rosalyn Dance, D-Petersburg, in the June 11 primary in Senate District 16.
“Because we haven’t received substantive information from either the candidate, Joe Morrissey, or an individual who may have been involved in advertising, I would recommend and request that you approve the continuance for Joe Morrissey until the next board meeting,” Schneider said.
The board next meets on June 24.