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Before Race Begins, Morrissey Violates Campaign Finance Law


What do you get if you mix Joe and a little hot water? Hint: not coffee.

Local political soap-opera star Joe Morrissey hemmed and hawed in Style two weeks ago about officially declaring a run for the House of Delegates. But it seems that well before that, his campaign fundraising activities had already started the State Board of Elections' official filing-deadline egg timer.

Morrissey officially declared himself a candidate when he filed a statement of organization with the election board April 13. But he'd already begun raising and spending campaign money in late March.

After accepting a campaign contribution, according to state law, candidates must file a statement of organization within 10 calendar days.

Morrissey, however, accepted a contribution March 27 and made a campaign purchase March 28, meaning he was seven days late filing his April 13 statement of organization, says Chris Piper, head of the election board's campaign finance division.

"The [campaign finance] report shows acceptance of a contribution for $100 on March 27 from his campaign's treasurer, Reeda Worden," Piper says, noting that Morrissey's filings won't be the only ones under scrutiny this year.

"Missed statements of organization are pretty common," he says. "This year, we're going to take a closer look [at everyone]. We've never had the technology — the resources — to do it before."

Written out of Richmond's political tragicomedy script for years, Morrissey was voted out as the city's top prosecutor in the 1993 primary election, not long after introducing his fists of fury as Exhibit A during a trial. An equally scandalous stint as a legal defender to the less fortunate ended shortly after an incident in which he beat up a carpenter at his Varina home in 1999.

This recent campaign transgression doesn't disqualify him from running for the 74th District House of Delegates seat.

"I was not aware that the report needed to be submitted in 10 days," says Worden. She first heard of the filing deadlines at a tutorial presented by Piper April 9. "Once we were made aware of when the reports were due, we got it done in a timely fashion," Worden says.

Transgressors face a possible cash penalty of $100 for each day the candidate misses the deadline, up to a $500 maximum fine.

Morrissey faces a four-way Democratic primary election race for a seat occupied by Donald McEachin. Delegate McEachin hopes to grab state Sen. Benjamin Lambert's spot in the same June primary. S

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