July 21--State Democrats want a Kanawha County judge to remove Delegate Suzette Raines, R-Kanawha, from the ballot this fall over allegations that she doesn't live where she says she does and that she didn't properly file several required forms.
The West Virginia Democratic Executive Committee made the accusations in a request filed today with the Kanawha County Circuit Court.
"Delegate Raines filed for re-election to represent the constituents of the 35th Delegate District and has failed to meet the minimum requirements of a candidate," states a news release from the party.
"Raines has failed to complete her campaign finance reports, failed to file her financial disclosure with the Ethics Commission and is believed not live at the address under which she filed for candidacy."
Raines is one of four delegates currently representing the 35th district, comprised of parts of Charleston and western Kanawha County. Although she's one of three Republicans representing the district, Democrats are confident they can pick up at least one seat in the upcoming election.
Raines, first elected in 2012, did not immediately return a Daily Mail request for comment.
The six-page complaint alleges Raines is registered as a voter at an address in St. Albans but listed a different St. Albans address on campaign paperwork. Raines doesn't live at either of the addresses, Democrats argue, citing "information and belief."
The Democrats argue this is a violation of state code.
"'Residence' for voting and candidacy means where you live the majority of the time," according to the West Virginia Secretary of State's website.
"Staying away temporarily (such as for school, a temporary work assignment, or a weekend or winter home) may not end your residence in a place. However, your residence is not a business address, an extra place you own, or a place you stay occasionally."
The Democrats also argue Raines should be removed from the ballot for not signing financial disclosure filings required by the state Ethics Commission. The complaint says she didn't sign disclosures filed in 2012 and 2013, and hasn't filed any disclosure this year.
"Pursuant to West Virginia Code ..."[n]o candidate nominated at a primary election who has failed to file a sworn statement, as required by this article, shall have his or her name placed on the official ballot for the ensuing election," the complaint states.
A representative with the Ethics Commission did not immediately return a Daily Mail request for comment.
Raines has also failed to file the required campaign finance paperwork with the West Virginia Secretary of State, Democrats argue. She hasn't filed paperwork since the 2012 campaign cycle, they argue.
The Secretary of State's website doesn't list any campaign finance information for Raines after 2012. Secretary of State spokesman Jake Glance recently told the Daily Mail she had not filed any 2014 reports; he was verifying that hadn't changed as of early today.
The state Democratic Executive Committee, a fundraising and political arm for the party, wants Kanawha Circuit Court to force the local board of ballot commissioners to strike or remove Raines' name from the ballot.
Attorney Marvin Masters, a longtime Democratic supporter, filed the petition with the court. In a separate filing, he also argues a GOP candidate for the House of Delegates in Preston County should also be removed from the ballot.
Melissa Diane Lewis filed as a Republican candidate in the race for the 52nd District on Jan. 14, according to the legal filing. The documents with her signature say she was not a member of any other party within the 60 days preceding her filing, according to the Democrats filing.
The Democrats argue she was actually a registered member of their own party until 5 days before filing her candidacy papers. They also believe Lewis lived in Monongalia County -- and outside the 52nd District -- within a year of her filing as a candidate and therefore doesn't meet the residency requirements for the position.
Lewis did not immediately return a Daily Mail request for comment.
This is a developing story. Visit www.dailymailwv.com throughout the day as more information becomes available.
Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or email@example.com. Follow him at www.Twitter.com/Dave_Boucher1.
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