Le­gal trou­bles no bar­rier for can­di­dates

Daily Southtown - - NATION & WORLD - By Mea­gan Flynn

His­tor­i­cally speak­ing, cam­paign­ing while out on bail on felony charges has proven to be a sure­fire way to lose an elec­tion, with some no­table ex­cep­tions.

But this cam­paign cy­cle, felony in­dict­ments ap­peared lit­tle more dam­ag­ing than TV at­tack ads as three Repub­li­can can­di­dates fac­ing an as­sort­ment of fraud charges squeaked past their Demo­cratic op­po­nents to hang onto their seats Tues­day night.

They in­clude Rep. Dun­can Hunter, R-Calif., in­dicted on fed­eral charges of wire fraud and ac­cu­sa­tions he funded a lux­u­ri­ous life­style with cam­paign donations; Rep. Chris Collins, R-N.Y., in­dicted on fed­eral in­sider trad­ing charges; and Texas Repub­li­can At­tor­ney General Ken Pax­ton, in­dicted on felony se­cu­ri­ties fraud charges in state court, ac­cused of ly­ing to friends and po­ten­tial in­vestors about his fi­nan­cial stake in a tech com­pany.

All ran in solid red ter­ri­tory. Though each can­di­date won their race by sin­gle-digit mar­gins as of early Wed­nes­day, their vic­to­ries highlight the po­lar­iz­ing po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in which crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tions into elected of­fi­cials are fre­quently met with more sym­pa­thy among sup­port­ers than scorn.

All three can­di­dates have de­nied wrong­do­ing and char­ac­ter­ized the in­dict­ments against them as po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated “witch hunts,” as their Demo­cratic op­po­nents have lunged at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity to re­mind vot­ers that jail time could be in their fu­tures.

“Repub­li­cans, Democrats and in­de­pen­dents know that it’s time to put coun­try be­fore party and re­ject a Con­gress­man who’s out on bail,” Collins’s op­po­nent Nate McMur­ray said in an Oct. 29 state­ment.

“If Pax­ton can’t fol­low the law, how can he en­force it?” read one an ad from Pax­ton’s chal­lenger, Justin Nel­son.

None of it worked.


Rep. Dun­can Hunter takes piz­zas to cam­paign work­ers. Hunter won de­spite fac­ing fed­eral charges of wire fraud.

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