Sussex County Council District 3 write-in candidate Patti Drago says the Republican State Committee has not done its homework.
In an Oct. 12 press release, the committee calls on the Department of Elections to investigate Drago, who they claim has not filed any financial disclosure reports.
Drago said because her name is not on the official general election ballot, she is not required to file financial statements; however, she has voluntarily listed all contributors and the amounts they donated on her website at pattidrago.com.
“They are dead wrong. I'm in full compliance,” she said.
Drago, who is unaffiliated, is challenging Republican Mark Schaeffer for the seat. Schaeffer defeated incumbent County Councilman Irwin “I.G.” Burton in the Sept. 15 Republican primary.
Drago started an online petition urging Burton to file as a write-in candidate. When he declined, she filed and began her campaign the third week of September.
She said Delaware election campaign law clearly outlines reporting requirements for public disclosure. According to Delaware campaign financial report instructions, candidates must file at least one financial report each January covering the financial activity from the previous calendar year. Reports are also required 30 days and eight days before any election. However, candidates not on the ballot in an election are exempt from filing the eight- and 30-day reports.
Bo McDowell, director of Sussex County Department of Elections, confirmed that the election commissioner's office had clarified the information as stated in the instructions. “Write-in candidates are, however, required to file a year-end report,” he said.
“If my opponent and his backers had taken the time to review the law, they would know that committees or candidates not on the ballot are not required to file with the Campaign Finance Division at this time. This had been previously confirmed directly with the Campaign Finance Division in Dover,” Drago said.
In the press release, Republican Committee Chairwoman Jane Brady said Drago has spent money to purchase signs and newspaper, radio and TV ads. “Any candidate who receives or spends money for their campaign is required by law to file a report outlining who has given, how much they have given and what funds have been spent and for what,” she said.
So far, Drago has more than 100 individual contributors, and she has also loaned her campaign more than $65,000. “With less than two months to campaign, I needed to get some money quickly and get my campaign going,” she said.