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FEC complaint accuses 2nd District candidate Chris Stewart of election fraud

Published: Monday, June 18 2012 7:45 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Four former Republican candidates have accused 2nd Congressional District nominee Chris Stewart of election fraud in a federal complaint.

The complaint filed last week with the Federal Elections Commission alleges he and another candidate, Eureka Mayor Milt Hanks, mailed an anonymous letter to state delegates that falsely accused the four of being involved in illegal activity and conspiring against Stewart.

David Clark, Cherilyn Eagar, Howard Wallack and Chuck Williams claim that the two altered the election results and that Hanks was a sham candidate who declared his support for Stewart three weeks before declaring his own candidacy.

Clark said he isn't expecting the FEC to reverse the outcome of the state Republican Party convention where delegates selected Stewart. He said he and the others want to clear their names and take a stand against corruption and dirty campaign tactics.

"We need to put an end to this," he said. "This is not the direction we would like Utah politics to take."

The Stewart campaign shot back at those who filed the complaint, saying in a prepared statement "this is an example of a few candidates who performed very poorly at the state convention, got caught playing dirty politics and are now trying to protect their political futures by accusing the target of their dirty campaign.

"We fully support the call for an FEC investigation and are absolutely certain it will clear us of any wrongdoing"

Utah GOP Chairman Thomas Wright investigated the allegations after the state convention in April.

The uproar started when Hanks told delegates during his first-round speech that he was approached by Clark, Eagar, Wallack and Williams to join an "ABC" or "anybody but Chris" effort, according to his report.

In interviews with Wright, those four candidates "emphatically denied" such a conversation took place and Hanks said only one of the four asked him to pledge his support to any candidate other than Stewart.

Wright said in the report that he and his staff were not able to ascertain who wrote the letter. But because it did not include a disclaimer about who authorized or paid for it, it is in violation of federal election laws. He encouraged anyone with that information to contact the FEC.

The report cleared Hanks and Stewart of any wrongdoing. But Clark said it failed to address evidence that their campaigns collaborated to damage the other candidates.

The four candidates hired a Washington, D.C., law firm, Baker Hostetler, to file the complaint.

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