- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 5, 2006

VIRGINIA BEACH — The chairman of the Virginia Beach Republican Party planned to file a Federal Election Commission complaint yesterday accusing Democratic congressional candidate Phil Kellam of improperly coordinating with the liberal activist group MoveOn.org.

The group has run television advertisements attacking Mr. Kellam’s opponent, Republican Rep. Thelma D. Drake of the 2nd District, which includes Virginia Beach, the Eastern Shore and parts of Norfolk and Hampton.

Kellam campaign spokesman Drew Lankford called the accusations “almost laughable” and said Mr. Kellam has done nothing improper.

Local Republican Party Chairman Chuck Smith used a Freedom of Information Act request to obtain e-mails written to or by Mr. Kellam in Mr. Kellam’s job as Virginia Beach’s commissioner of the revenue.

The e-mails are from November through July 25.

Mr. Smith said one e-mail dated June 19 and sent to Mr. Kellam shows Mr. Kellam, who has maintained that he’s had no contact with MoveOn.org, is a member of the group.

The e-mail is addressed to “Dear MoveOn member” and is a mass mailing asking recipients to urge Mrs. Drake to sign a pledge not to accept oil industry money.

Mr. Kellam subsequently attacked Mrs. Drake for her position on oil, Mr. Smith said, adding, “quite clearly, this suggests he was taking his talking points from MoveOn.org.”

“Phil Kellam intentionally deceived the voters of the Second District about his relationship with MoveOn.org,” Mr. Smith told reporters Wednesday. “And Phil Kellam must come clean about his relationship with this out-of-state, liberal organization.”

Mr. Lankford said Mr. Kellam is not a member of MoveOn.org, that Mr. Kellam and the campaign have never had any contact with the group and that the Republicans “are trying to manufacture something that’s not there.”

The complaint also accuses Mario Granger, a member of a state Democratic Party steering committee, of speaking on behalf of MoveOn.org and critically of Mrs. Drake at a press conference announcing a television ad the organization was running.

Drake campaign manager Tim Murtaugh said the complaint was not filed Wednesday because it needed to be notarized.

Mr. Murtaugh said election laws prohibit campaigns from coordinating with such outside groups and “we think there’s enough smoke to suggest presence of a fire.”

Mr. Smith also said e-mails show Mr. Kellam used his public office to help him raise campaign funds; that issue is not part of the FEC complaint.

Mr. Kellam used his personal e-mail account to e-mail five “call sheets” — contact information for potential donors — to his government e-mail account, Mr. Smith said.

One of the five persons donated $1,000 to Mr. Kellam’s campaign in June, he said.

Mr. Lankford said Mr. Kellam “has been relentless in being sure that the campaign and office duties stay separate.”

“There’s nothing here that shows any political activity,” Mr. Lankford said of the call sheet e-mails. “They’re fishing at a dry hole.”

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