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"Unclaimed" Campaign Ads Resurface

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Virginia law is clear when it comes to campaign literature: If you print it, you have to claim it.

In the race for the 74th District in the House of Delegates, however, two recent campaign brochures from candidates in the primary election provide no such claim.

David Lambert and Joe Morrissey, both vying for the Democratic nomination for the seat, failed to provide the disclaimer statement on recent literature their campaigns distributed.

Morrissey's was a mailer; Lambert's a "missed you" doorknob flier.

"Any political advertisement paid for by a campaign committee must contain a disclosure statement that says it's paid for by the candidate or the committee," says Chris Piper, administrator of the campaign finance division of the Virginia State Board of Elections.

Piper says his office has received a single complaint that calls out both candidates for failing to meet the requirement.

Piper says his office has received no complaints against other candidates in the primary races: "This is the first one for this election cycle at this point."

"We do not act on anything but a formal complaint," he says. "We do not have investigatory authority. … We just cannot physically go out looking for violators."

Neither Morrissey nor Lambert face anything stiffer than a fine of a few hundred dollars, Piper says.

The law allows a one-time penalty of $500 for campaigns that report in excess of $10,000 in contributions and a $100 fine for campaigns with less than $10,000.

Calls to a phone number listed on Lambert's campaign Web site were not returned by press time.

Morrissey's media representative indicated that the matter amounted to making waves when there's not even a beach.

"This is truly benign," Jeff McKee says. "That was the first thing printed [for the campaign]. … They were all taken back, tossed and reprinted."

The Democratic primary is June 12. S

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