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West Virginia court candidate sues to get campaign money

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Supreme Court candidate Allen Loughry, the sole recipient of public campaign funds from a West Virginia pilot project, announced Monday that he had petitioned the Supreme Court to compel the release of the program’s so-called rescue funding.

The Republican also said that he is filing to intervene in a federal lawsuit that seeks to strike down the pilot project’s rescue funding provision. Neither filing was immediately available from those courts late Monday. The campaign provided a copy of the Supreme Court petition.

West Virginia is experimenting with public financing in response to concerns about the perceived influence of campaign cash on judicial candidates. After providing initial amounts to participating candidates, the program offers additional or “rescue” funds when they’re outspent by traditionally funded opponents or outside groups.

But the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down rescue funding in Arizona’s public financing program. That decision prompted a federal judge to rule in May against a similar provision in North Carolina’s program for judicial races.

West Virginia’s State Election Commission discussed these rulings before a request to release rescue funds to Loughry failed on a tie July 17 vote. Invoking the federal rulings, a would-be contributor to Loughry’s Democratic opponents sued in U.S. District Court the next day to have the rescue funding provision ruled unconstitutional. Two seats are up on the court this year.

Loughry argues that neither federal ruling applies to West Virginia’s program, and that its provision remains the law. He said Monday that the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University’s law school has agreed to help represent him. The nonpartisan center closely tracks spending and advertising in judicial races nationwide, and has championed public financing programs.



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