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Griffith undecided about whether to fundraise for congressional run during legislative session

Anita Kumar

Morgan Griffith, majority leader of the House of Delegates, has not started raising money in his bid to unseat Democratic U.S. Rep. Rick Boucher and has not decided whether he will do so during the remainder of the legislative session.

"It's a close call,'' Griffith (R-Salem) said. He said he is seeking advice, but has not made a decision even though he believes it to be legal. The session is scheduled to end March 13.

Virginia law bars members of the General Assembly from fundraising during the regularly scheduled legislative session, but that law does not appear to apply to federal office.

In late January, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) issued an opinion that said state law does not restrict legislators from fundraising for federal office during session.

"It is my opinion that [Virginia law] precludes members of the General Assembly from engaging in fundraising activity in connection with a campaign for state office during a regular session of the General Assembly," Cuccinelli wrote in his first opinion. "However, it is my further opinion that such prohibition does not restrict fundraising activity related to a campaign for federal office. Finally, it is my opinion that federal law preempts Virginia's fundraising prohibition when a General Assembly member solicits or accepts contributions solely for a federal office."

State Sen. Robert Hurt, one of several Republicans running to replace Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello, began raising money after the opinion was issued -- even though some of his opponents accused him of violating the spirit of the law.

Griffith sent paperwork this week to the Federal Election Commission to form a campaign committee, allowing him to begin raising money. He said he is loaning himself $500 to pay for his filing fees.

He has yet to officially file as a candidate for the GOP nomination in southwest Virginia's 9th congressional district, which he must do by Monday. Republicans will choose a nominee at a May 22 convention.

By Anita Kumar  |  February 26, 2010; 7:30 AM ET
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races , Anita Kumar , General Assembly 2010 , House of Delegates , Ken Cuccinelli , Rick Boucher , Robert Hurt , State Senate , Tom Perriello  
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Wow, I assumed too much about Morgan Griffith.

Indeed I just assume that any member of the General Assembly, Republican or Democrat, with aspirations for higher office, would quickly ignore the spirit of the law and raise funds during session. I commend Delegate Griffith for considering the law and hope he makes the right decision and holds off on fundraising until session is wrapped up.

Posted by: antonioeliasiv | February 26, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

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