W.Va. court hears ‘rescue’ funding arguments

CHARLESTON (AP) — West Virginia’s Supreme Court must decide whether the judicial branch is unique enough to allow special campaign finance rules.

Court candidate Allen Loughry has received public funds through a pilot program. That program also offers so-called rescue funds triggered by other candidates’ spending.

But the State Election Commission has withheld matching funds from Loughry because of federal rulings against such funding in other states.

A lawyer for Loughry argued at a Tuesday hearing that those rulings should not apply to West Virginia’s program. Lawyer Adam Skaggs said the state has a compelling interest to eliminate the appearance of bias among the judiciary. He argued that justifies the public financing program and its rescue funding provision.

But several justices questioned whether the U.S. Supreme Court distinguishes between judicial and other elections.

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