Cape Gazette

Democrats charge Pires with breaking election law

By Kara Nuzback | Oct 11, 2012
Source: Submitted Alex Pires, Independent candidate for U.S. Senate, is being accused of violating federal election laws.

Delaware Democrats are taking action against Alex Pires, Independent Party candidate for Delaware’s U.S. Senate seat.  Pires is challenging longtime incumbent Sen. Tom Carper, a Democrat.

Since announcing his campaign in May, Pires has made a number of accusations against Carper, calling the Senator corrupt.  Now, leaders in Carper’s party are accusing Pires of violating federal election law.

The Delaware Democratic Party filed a complaint with the Federal Elections Commission against Pires and his campaign committee Oct. 10.

The complaint, filed by Party Chairman John Daniello, accuses Pires of violating the Federal Election Campaign Act by using staff and resources from bars, nightclubs and restaurants he owns to influence the election.   Pires is a partner of Highway One, which owns a number of establishments in Sussex County, including Jimmy’s Grille, Bottle & Cork and the Rusty Rudder.

The complaint also says Pires failed to include required disclaimers on campaign materials to show the public who paid for them.

“Because of these clear violations of federal law, the commission should act immediately to investigate these matters and impose penalties against Pires and his campaign,” Daniello wrote.

The suit references Pires’ campaign kick off at Bottle & Cork in Dewey Beach, where Highway One employees stood outside collecting ballot signatures for Pires.  Daniello says Pires also gave out free chicken from Jimmy’s Grille at a campaign event in Middletown.

Federal law prohibits corporations from contributing to federal candidates.

Daniello said reports filed with the commission do not disclose any disbursements to Bottle & Cork or Jimmy’s Grille for food or staff time.  “Thus, it appears that these goods and services were provided to respondents without charge, resulting in prohibited in-kind corporate contributions from Bottle & Cork,” he wrote.

The complaint also states press releases from Pires’ campaign and his campaign website do not include disclaimers required by federal law indicating who paid for the communication materials.

Daniello says the commission should fine Pires the maximum amount permitted by law for what he calls flagrant and repeated violations of the Federal Election Act and Federal Elections Commission regulations.

In an Oct. 11 email response, Pires accused Carper of beating his wife and lying about his military record. “In retaliation, he complains to the FEC that I gave three older ladies pieces of chicken from Jimmy's Grill – the best chicken in Delaware,” Pires wrote.

In a press release, Delaware Democratic Party Executive Director Joe Aronson said, “For a guy who has repeatedly referred to Delaware as the most corrupt state in America, Alex Pires doesn’t seem to adhere to a very strict code of ethics.”

Aronson said, “Alex’s campaign reflects his footloose past. When he represented black farmers in a class action lawsuit, he was so sloppy that the judge reprimanded him, yet unfortunately Alex walked away with millions while black farmers left the deal with little. Time and again, Alex has shown he thinks he doesn't have to play by the same rules as everyone else, and now he's bringing his road show to Delaware.”

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