Nevada Democrats file FEC complaint against Angle
Associated Press Writer
LAS VEGAS – The Nevada State Democratic Party filed a federal elections complaint Wednesday against Republican U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle and her former primary rival Danny Tarkanian.
The complaint alleges Tarkanian violated Federal Election Commission regulations by campaigning for Angle while also running a political committee against Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. The complaint claims Tarkanian’s dual roles amount to contributions to Angle’s campaign totaling more than the $5,000 maximum donation.
The complaint also says Tarkanian’s political committee has released ads without the legally required political disclaimer.
Tarkanian said he has only communicated with Angle or her staff briefly since the June primary. He called the complaint baseless.
“I’ve never been a surrogate for Sharron Angle. I’ve never spoken on her behalf,” he said. “I simply expressed my views on the Senate race, which I have a First Amendment right to do.”
Tarkanian, however, said he had planned to officially speak for Angle at an event this week, but backed out after he learned of the complaint.
Phoebe Sweet, a spokeswoman for the Democrats, said the withdrawal, “is clearly an admission of guilt that Angle and Tarkanian have been illegally coordinating and have now been caught red-handed.”
Angle’s campaign could not immediately be reached for comment.
FEC complaints are generally used by political rivals to try to drum up negative coverage, said Richard Hasen, an elections law professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
“Filing a complaint is a way to get attention whether or not the allegation is well founded,” Hasen said.
The Democrats could have a valid complaint, but it is unlikely the FEC will issue a ruling before the November election, Hasen said.
“Anytime you have someone wearing two hats there is the risk of illegal coordination,” said Hasen, who reviewed the complaint.
Tarkanian finished in third place in the GOP Senate primary. He formed the group Harry Reid Votes in August and has since tied Reid’s leadership in the Senate to economic failure in Nevada, where unemployment and foreclosures are soaring.
Tarkanian has also rallied for Angle, though his comments about her campaign or views have sometimes been less than flattering. Most recently, he said promoting gun violence against unpopular government leaders was “extreme,” a statement Democrats used against Angle, who has said voters are considering, “Second Amendment remedies.”
Angle and Reid are in a tight race that has been closely monitored by Democratic and Republican political leaders across the country.