Secretary of State dismisses election complaint over Reed residency

by Kate Shunney

Legal counsel for the West Virginia’s Secretary of State office has notified a Berkeley Springs resident that his election complaint against former House of Delegates candidate Tally Reed has been dismissed.

Rob Campbell filed the complaint in April, alleging that Reed was ineligible to run for a seat in the 58th district, which includes the eastern portion of Morgan County and parts of Berkeley Springs. Campbell said Reed did not live in the district when she filed as a candidate in January.

Reed ran as a Republican in the May 8 primary election and lost to former delegate Larry Kump.

Campell received a letter dated November 13, 2018 telling him that the Secretary of State’s office had completed its investigation into his April complaint.

“Based upon underlying investigation, and the declination to proceed received today by a Special Prosecutor appointed to the matter, the allegations contained in the Complaints are determined to be unsubstantiated and are therefore DISMISSED,” the letter said. The letter further says state law prohibits the office from make any public statement about the investigation.

“As such, the details of the investigation and evidence considered shall not be made public, even upon request,” the letter says. It is signed by Donald M. Kersey, III, Elections Director and Deputy Legal Counsel.

The letter is nearly identical to one of the same date posted on social media by Morgan County Commissioner Ken Reed, husband of Tally Reed. Both are on official West Virginia Secretary of State letterhead.

In addition to the election complaint, a civil lawsuit was brought against Secretary of State Mac Warner in Kanawha County Circuit Court on April 25 relating to Reed’s residency. The lawsuit, brought on behalf of Howard Stone and Patricia Adams, sought a writ of mandamus to remove Tally Reed from the May 8 primary ballot and not tabulate any votes cast for her during primary voting. Early voting began on April 25, the day the lawsuit was filed.

The lawsuit argued that Reed had not moved to Hedgesville from the couple’s primary residence in Berkeley Springs before she filed as a candidate in the 58th district.

Circuit Judge Joanna Tabit issued a final order on May 4 rejecting the emergency petition to block votes for Reed from being counted. According to the Kanawha County Circuit Clerk’s office, that civil case about Reed’s candidacy is closed.