Senate Campaign Heats Up

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

This week the campaigns of Sen. Roger Wicker and former governor Ronnie Musgrove have turned up the heat with accusations flying from both camps.

Wicker and Musgrove are accusing each other of unethical financial reports.

The one-time roommates during their time as state lawmakers may have taken the gloves off as they duke it out for Trent Lott's open Senate seat.

A commercial recently started airing across the state, which Wicker's campaign calls it Federal Election Commission violation. The ad was funded by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

"The FEC law allows for $180,000 of coordinated expenditures between a national committee and a campaign, and this is clearly more," said Ryan Annison, Wicker for Senate spokesman.

Annison said the cost of the ad exceeds that amount by more than $100,000.

The Musgrove campaign calls the ad legal. And the DSCC says as long as the ad doesn't expressly advocate a candidate, it doesn't matter how much they spend. Annison disagrees.

"It's clearly a Ronnie Musgrove ad and he's skirting the law to benefit himself yet again," Annison said.

But Musgrove's campaign has accusations of its own. It says Wicker violated campaign finance laws by combining contributions from two separate election accounts.

"This sort of follows a history of questionable action with campaign funds. Here we have him exceeding limits, not refunding or redistributing funds he should be redistributing," said Adam Bozzi, spokesman for the Musgrove campaign.

But do all the accusation from either campaign really get them anywhere with voters? Political consultant Brad Chism says no.

"What they care about is who is going to lower the price of gas, who's going to help find new jobs for Mississippi. So this insider baseball is less important to the average working person," Chism said.

But Chism said he expects the war of words to only get more intense as candidates focus in on the November election. The FEC did request campaign finance reports from the Wicker campaign earlier this summer. So far no action has been taken.

However the Wicker campaign does expect to file a complaint over the legality of the recent Musgrove commercial.

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