Wicker-Musgrove Race Intensifies - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Jackson 07/17/08

Wicker-Musgrove Race Intensifies

By Jon Kalahar
jkalahar@wlbt.net

We're still months away from the November election, but don't tell that to Roger Wicker and Ronnie Musgrove. This week both men's campaigns 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.

Wicker's campaign is calling a new television commercial a 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 campaign spokesman.

Annison says 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," said Annison.

But Musgrove's campaign has accusations of their own. They say Wicker violated campaign finance laws by combining contributions from two separate election accounts -- one for the senate seat and one from his former seat in the house.

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

But do all the accusations 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," said Chism. "So this insider baseball is less important to the average working person."

But Chism expects the war or words to only get more intense as candidates focus in on the November election.

The Federal Elections Commission did request campaign finance reports from the Wicker campaign earlier this summer. So far no action has been taken by the FEC.

The Wicker campaign expects to file a complaint over the legality of the recent Musgrove commercial.

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