Questions Arise Whether Tennant Broke Election Law On First Day of Early Voting
Secretary of State Natalie Tennant may have violated state law on Wednesday as she led a group to the Kanawha County Voter Registration office for early voting.
According to Kanawha County Clerk Vera McCormick, Tennant led a group of about 30 supporters to the courthouse Wednesday morning. She says members of the group cheered for Tennant for a brief moment and Tennant thanked them for their support. They then went inside to cast their ballots.
State law prohibits any campaigning on the property of the county courthouse, any annex facilities or any other designated early voting locations.
Tennant is running for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by retiring Sen. Jay Rockefeller.
McCormick says Tennant's group put their signs down before making their way on to courthouse property. But, she points to a brief moment that might put in question whether state law was broken.
"Whenever they got there, my understanding--and I saw it for just a second--she was on the steps right there in front of our door and everyone ganged around her. I can't say what she was saying but they all were clapping like a little rally," she said. "It was just a few seconds, a minute or so, and they all came in and voted. I can't say if she was campaigning. She was out there and they were having a little rally."
McCormick says no one from the courthouse asked them to leave and by the time she and other officials had realized what was going on Tennant's supporters were entering the building to cast their ballots. McCormick says if Tennant and her supporters would have remained outside, courthouse officials would have stepped in.
"It's not my determination [whether or not she broke the law]. She's Secretary of State and she knows the law. Someone from the newspaper said she was thanking them for supporting her," McCormick said.
Officials from Tennant's campaign responded with the following statement:
“This is nothing more than Congresswoman Capito trying to distract voters from the real violation in this campaign, which is the Congresswoman's long record abusing her position in order to make money on Wall Street at West Virginia's expense. Volunteers collected all signs and materials before ever even crossing the street to the polling place. Natalie simply thanked volunteers for being there before going inside - which is not campaigning any more than Congresswoman Capito parking a giant foreign-made bus covered in campaign signs in front of a polling location is.”
The Charleston Daily Mail reports that a spokesperson from Rep. Shelley Moore Capito's campaign denied any involvement in filming a video depicting Tennant and supporters at the Kanawha County Voters Regustration office that surfaced on YouTube Wednesday afternoon. Capito is also vying for the U.S. Senate seat.