An Albemarle County supervisor is accusing an area group against the Route 29 Western Bypass of breaking the law. The issue centers around whether ads supporting candidates who oppose the bypass are on the up and up.
Supervisor Ken Boyd says the Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition is running illegal campaign ads. But that group says it is doing nothing wrong.
An anti-Western Bypass ad is now being called into question, just days before voters hit the polls to elect new Albemarle supervisors. The issue: whether the group behind the campaign should be considered a political action committee - and thereby subject to State Board of Elections rules.
Boyd says the Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition is a PAC.
"This group, which is running political ads because they're suggesting that we vote for certain people and don't vote for other people," Boyd said.
In basic terms, a PAC spends money to influence elections, in this case, advocating for Liz Palmer and Diantha McKeel - who both stand against the bypass. The ads also tell people not to vote for Duane Snow or Rodney Thomas, who are in favor of it.
The coalition is firing back, saying, "Neither the Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition nor the Charlottesville Albemarle Transportation Coalition are political action committees and therefore are not required to register with the State Board of Elections."
But Boyd says, "Washington politics is just seeping into local politics here and I'm just really sad to see that happen, if this is the style of politics that we're going to have happen in our local elections here."
Candidate Duane Snow says his platform expands beyond the controversial road.
"The issues that I've run on are the things that are important to citizens in their everyday life such as schools and getting the Internet cell coverage and making sure that our taxes stay low," Snow said.
Candidate Diantha McKeel says she has never seen and is not aware of the ads. Rodney Thomas says he is aware of the ads but did not want to comment any further. NBC29 also reached out to Liz Palmer but have not yet heard back.
The State Board of Elections says it is investigating Boyd's allegations.
Response from the Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition:
In response to Ken Boyd's outrageous accusations against the Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition, members of the Coalition's Board offer the following response:
We are a group of local parents who are concerned about the impact of the proposed Route 29 Bypass on our children's schools and our families' homes as well as the many negative environmental impacts of this Bypass.
Because of our serious concerns about the proposed Bypass, we organized as a group in the late summer of 2013. We are duly registered with Albemarle County and the Commonwealth of Virginia State Corporation Commission as a part of the Charlottesville-Albemarle Transportation Coalition, Inc. which has been a registered 501(c) 4 organization since its incorporation in 1988. Mr. Boyd could have accessed this information by performing a simple search of the records available online at the Virginia State Corporation Commission.
Neither the Charlottesville Bypass Truth Coalition nor the Charlottesville-Albemarle Transportation Coalition are Political Action Committees, and therefore are not required to register with the State Board of Elections. Our mission has been to educate and inform the public about the proposed Bypass and other transportation options for our community for more than twenty-five years. A part of that mission has been to present information on all of the candidates' positions on the bypass. We have not endorsed any candidates; we have simply presented facts.
It is unfortunate that, at the 11th hour of this political campaign, Mr. Boyd has attempted to divert voters' attention from the positions taken by the candidates on the Bypass to an attempt to smear a group of concerned parents, grandparents, and residents who are advocating a wiser approach to transportation planning. Had Mr. Boyd contacted us before filing his complaint or calling a press conference, we would have been glad to talk with him.
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