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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Complaint Filed with DA against CORAZZI

Filed by a local resident last week with the DA.

Dear District Attorney Martens,

I hereby request that an investigation be opened to determine if West Bend School Board candidate Lynn Corazzi has violated Wis. Stat. 12.05. His campaign website (http://www.corazziforwbschools.com) uses the term "Re-Elect" in the header on the home page and each sub-page.[1]  Mr. Corazzi was appointed by the Mayor school board of West Bend due to the resignation of former board member John Duwell; he was never elected.

Wis. Stat. 12.05 states: "False representations affecting elections. No person may knowingly make or publish, or cause to be made or published, a false representation pertaining to a candidate or referendum which is intended or tends to affect voting at an election."
It is clear from examining how situations like this have been handled in other states, that a candidate who has been appointed cannot claim to be re-elected. In Florida, New Mexico, Ohio, and Nebraksa, governing bodies have addressed situations have occurred where a candidate was appointed to his position, and in the next election runs for "re-election." In every case, the decision was that the use of the term “re-elect” by a person who was appointed and never elected, is inappropriate and not allowed.

In Florida, a candidate asked the Florida Supreme Court - Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee for an advisory opinion to his question: “Where a judge is in a contested election immediately after the judge's gubernatorial appointment, may the judge use the word "re-elect" in conjunction with the judge's campaign advertisements?.” The candidate was told No, however he could use the word “Retain.” Based on dictionary definitions of “re-elect” – the Committee held that “retain” is an appropriate term for such a candidate, and not “re-elect.”[2]

In New Mexico, the Judicial Ethics Handbook discusses the code that prohibits candidates from using advertising that contains “misleading contents.” Appointed judges have been “counseled not to use the term ‘re-elect’” under this Code.[3]
Ohio Statute 3517.21(B)(1) specifically forbids the “use the term “re-elect” when the candidate has never been elected at a primary, general, or special election to the office for which he or she is a candidate.”[4]

Finally, the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission replied to the inquiry: “May an individual who is currently occupying the office of an elected county official by appointment use the word "re-elect" on campaign publications or advertising?” The Commission concluded that “whether or not one is an incumbent, and whether one has been previously elected or appointed to an elective office is likely to be material in that it is usually an important enough matter to influence some voters in an election. Therefore, it is the opinion of the Commission that, under the facts you have outlined, use of the word "re-elect" by your client should be avoided due to the potential to mislead some persons on a matter which may be significant enough to influence their voting.”[5]
Corazzi has been challenged by voters on his use of “re-elect,” yet still uses the term “re-elect.”

I challenge that Lynn Corazzi’s statement on his website violates Wis. Stat. 12.05 by making a false representation pertaining to a candidate, namely himself. Enclosed with this letter is the following:

CORAZZI WEBSITE: “Re-Elect Lynn Corazzi for West Bend…”

FLORIDA: An appointed judge may not use the word “re-elect”

NEW MEXICO: Appointed candidates should not use “re-elect”

OHIO: Statute: No person shall use “re-elect” when never elected

NEBRASKA: Use of “Re-elect” should be avoided by appointees.

Sincerely, Bill Myers 

Stay tuned for updates. 

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