- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - The Rhode Island Republican Party filed a complaint with elections officials Wednesday over the funding of a Democratic Party television ad that promotes the gubernatorial candidacy of Gina Raimondo.

The complaint asks the state Board of Elections to order Democrats to stop running the ad, which began airing this week. Democrats say it is scheduled to end in the next few days.

Raimondo is featured during most of the 30-second spot. It closely mirrors a Raimondo ad from the primary campaign and touts her experience creating jobs. In the final five seconds, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed is featured. The narrator says they will work together on a Raimondo plan to increase manufacturing jobs. Reed then says he approves the message and the words “Vote for Rhode Island’s Jack Reed” appear.

The party is paying for the $90,000 ad out of its federal account.

The GOP said the ad promotes Raimondo, a state candidate, and should therefore be paid for out of the party’s state account and be subject to state spending limits of $25,000. They say it constitutes an illegal and excessive in-kind contribution to her campaign.

State Rep. Joseph Shekarchi, who is leading the state Democrats’ coordinated campaign, said the ad is legal.

“The Republicans are wrong. This ad is governed by federal law, not state law, and they know this,” Shekarchi wrote in an email.

He said the ad will continue to air as scheduled. It’s not clear whether the board will deal with the complaint before the ad is scheduled to stop airing.

The Republicans asked the board to hear the complaint on an expedited basis and to immediately issue a cease and desist order.

Richard Thornton, campaign finance director at the board, said he can’t comment on whether they received a complaint because they are confidential unless there is a finding of wrongdoing.

He said in general complaints receive an initial review. If there is any merit to the complaint, they will allow the other side to respond before it goes before the seven-member board. He said the board has the power to hold an emergency session.

“I can’t recall the last time they’ve done that,” he said.

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