By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—US Senate candidate John Martin has charged opponent Jonathan McConnell of offering him money to drop out of the Republican primary. If true, this would not be the first time McConnell has been accused with violating campaign rules.
The Auburn Plainsman in 2003 reported McConnell violated several campaign rules in his bid for Auburn student body president, including attempting to gather students’ student ID numbers and pins to cast votes for his campaign.
In 2003, SGA Sen. Michael Joffrion accused McConnell of violating seven campaign rules. The Auburn E-Board determined, “Of the seven violation categories outlined in Joffrion’s contention, E-Board found there was enough evidence to support six of the allegations,” wrote student reporter Brooklyn Noel.
The E-Board found the complaints against McConnell to be valid, but determined the evidence wasn’t overwhelming enough to overturn the election. “E-Board decided by a 5-1 vote that the evidence against McConnell was not overwhelming enough to overturn the election. E-Board, however, unanimously found Joffrion’s contention was valid,” according too Noel’s report.
According to the majority opinion statements released by E-Board, Joffrion’s contention included “allegations that McConnell supporters asked students for their social security numbers and PINs and offered to vote for them, and that members of McConnell’s family called students to solicit votes for McConnell.”
The Auburn Plainsman Editorial Board, wrote, “There’s no doubt McConnell did violate campaign laws. SGA Board of Elections reported 10 violations during campaigns by McConnell.”
Martin in a conversation with this publication confirmed that McConnell offered to pay for his campaign expenses if he exited the race. He also expressed bewilderment that that father of the ex-Marine would call to defend his son’s actions.
Martin believes that McConnell’s offer was illegal under federal campaign laws but says he has not been contacted by law-enforcement.
He has not filed a formal complaint with ALGOP at this time.
Martin and McConnell along with Shadrack McGill and Marcus Bowman hope to unseat the State’s popular Senior Senator Richard Shelby in the March Republican primary.