Candidates facing fines for missed filing date

The two Shenandoah County Republicans seeking the party’s support to run for the Board of Supervisors say they didn’t realize they broke a state election law.

Supervisor David Ferguson and Strasburg resident S. John Massoud paid the $100 filing fee to the Shenandoah County Republican Committee by its March 13 deadline for inclusion as candidates seeking the party’s support in the Nov. 3 election. The committee plans to hold its nominating convention May 8.

However, paying the fee to the committee triggered a 10-day window during which candidates must file a statement of organization with the Shenandoah County general registrar. Neither candidate had filed the statement with the office as of the deadline Monday, General Registrar Lisa McDonald said Thursday.

Ferguson and Massoud eventually filed their statements Thursday. Ferguson is seeking the party’s nomination to run for a fourth term representing District 3. Ferguson submitted his filing fee a couple of days before the party’s deadline.

“I did not realize that that constituted the trigger date for a 10-day filing and then I immediately left town on Sunday and have been out of the country until Tuesday of this week,” Ferguson said, adding that he spoke to the registrar Wednesday.

Ferguson said he’s still interested in running for re-election.

“I am moving in that direction,” Ferguson said.

Party Vice Chairman Craig Orndorff said Thursday that the filing of the statement does not affect a candidate’s status as a choice in the party’s nominating convention.

“Our position right now is that Mr. Ferguson is the nominee,” Orndorff said. “Should anything occur, that he drops out or decides not to run, or even if any of our candidates happen to suddenly pass away, we will follow state law and the state party plan and any guidance that [the Republican Party of Virginia] may provide.”

Massoud is seeking the Republican Party support to run for District 6 on the Board of Supervisors. Massoud admitted Thursday that he missed the filing deadline. Massoud said he didn’t know about the filing requirement and that election laws had changed since the last time he sought a public office in the 1990s.

McDonald explained that a candidate has 10 days to submit a statement of organization from the time he or she receives a contribution or any item of value toward a possible campaign or spent money on the effort, including paying the party’s filing fee. Setting up a campaign account also triggers the need to file the document.

“You don’t have to file a statement of organization simply by publicly, verbally declaring [intent to run],” McDonald said. “That’s not an event in its own.”

The registrar determines the filing deadline based on when the person began receiving or spending campaign money or paid a party fee.

The registrar fines a candidate $100 for failing to file a statement of organization. The fine increases to $500 and the registrar forwards the matter to the commonwealth’s attorney for collection if not paid by a certain time. If still not paid, the prosecutor can determine if the person committed a willful violation of the law and increase the fine to $1,000.

The following people had filed statements of organization in local office elections as of Thursday:

• Kathy Black for commissioner of the revenue;

• Steven Baker and Michael Wakeman for District 2 on the Board of Supervisors;

• Cindy George for treasurer;

• David George, Tamara Heishman and Sarona Irvin for clerk of the circuit court;

• Chad Logan for commonwealth’s attorney.

Sheriff Timothy C. Carter and Tim Sutherly, chief of the Strasburg Police Department, filed documents with the registrar last year for the Sheriff’s Office election.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com