SEATTLE – State Republicans filed a complaint Monday accusing former radio talk show host Dave Ross (search) of violating federal election law by staying on the air for about two months after announcing plans to run for Congress as a Democrat.
In a complaint filed with the Federal Elections Commission (search), the state GOP accused Ross and KIRO-AM Radio of illegally using the "Dave Ross Show" to promote his candidacy. The party alleges KIRO violated campaign law by effectively giving Ross free air time.
"We believe these actions violate federal law," state GOP Chairman Chris Vance said. "In fact they may merit criminal prosecution."
Ross, who is vying to succeed retiring Republican Rep. Jennifer Dunn (search), has said lawyers have assured him he broke no laws by continuing to air his three-hour weekday morning show until he formally filed for candidacy.
"We've complied with the law every step of the way," said Ross' campaign manager, Marco Lowe. "This is a desperate act by the Republicans. ... We're not going to be distracted by this baseless claim."
Kevin McCarthy, a market manager for Philadelphia-based Entercom, KIRO's parent company, said, "We have thoroughly vetted our legal position and are doing nothing wrong."
The Republican Party also claims that by continuing to air the "Dave Ross Show" with various guest hosts after its namesake stepped down, KIRO has tacitly promoted Ross' candidacy. McCarthy said the show's name is a valuable brand and that holding onto the name has nothing to do with politics.
The GOP urged the FEC to refer the complaint to the U.S. Department of Justice, saying Ross and KIRO knowingly and willfully violated election law.
Ross, 52, won the Democratic primary less than two months after he signed off the air. He announced his plans to run in late May and kept airing his show until late July, when he filed for candidacy.
In an August interview, Ross said he scrupulously avoided talking about his campaign during his three-hour morning shows. "I weighed my words to make sure the show I was doing was the same kind of show I'd be doing if I wasn't running," he said.
Ross, whose commentary has aired on more than 200 CBS stations around the country, is running against King County Sheriff Dave Reichert, 54, a Republican best known for helping catch the Green River serial killer.