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State GOP reports Dem candidate to ethics board
BLANCHARDVILLE - The Republican Party of Wisconsin has filed a complaint against a local lawmaker who looks to challenge a GOP incumbent for the 17th Senate District, citing her failure to include a disclaimer on an advertisement as a purposeful lack of adherence to the law.

But candidate Kriss Marion, who currently sits on the Lafayette County Board of Supervisors after being elected for the second time April 3, said the omission of a line of text wasn't intentional.

"There's not really an excuse," Marion said, noting her inexperience in the political arena. "I just didn't know."

The complaint was filed April 26 by Mark Morgan, executive director of the Wisconsin GOP. It was submitted to the state Ethics Commission, citing Wisconsin statute 11.1303(2)(a) and 11.1303(2)(b), which specify that each printed advertisement which supports a candidate through payment or reimbursement by the campaign needs to "clearly identify its source." It must read "Paid for by" before listing the name of the committee paying for the ad, per the statutes.

Within the complaint, the Republican party provides two examples of advertisements run without this specific wording included; one March 29 urging voters to choose Marion as county supervisor and the later ad encouraging residents to visit the Spring Green General Store for an "Old Fashioned Sunday Social." Neither includes a note of authorization by a campaign.

Marion said both ads were arranged last minute via campaign funds.

"I just called my small-town newspaper editor," Marion said. "Like I always do. I just gave them a rough idea of what I wanted."

A spokesperson for the Republican party, Alec Zimmerman, initially issued a statement announcing the complaint in which he wrote, "Clearly, Marion thinks there is one set of laws for Wisconsin, and another set of laws for her."   

Zimmerman said Wednesday that the advertisements were brought to the attention of the party by "a local, grassroots conservative within the Senate district" but would not name the individual. In a later statement, Zimmerman said that Marion's indication she was unaware of the statute was an inadequate excuse.

"Marion can plead ignorance of the law all she wants," Zimmerman wrote in an email. "The fact is she was caught violating basic laws regarding transparency that other campaigns seem to have no problem following."

Discussions between Marion and the state commission have been ongoing over phone calls and via email to explain what happened, Marion said. The violation will likely end in a fine, but she remains unsure of the end result.

"They haven't suggested a remedy," Marion said, adding that "political game playing" was what prompted her to run for office.

"Hopefully we can direct the conversation away from beginners' mistakes and on voting records," Marion said. "I hope this doesn't discourage other people from running for office either. We need real people in Democracy."