SD 34 Republicans appeal to court to remove Van Meter from ballot

   

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – One week after the Missouri Republican Party sent letters to the Secretary of State calling for the removal of four candidates from the ballot, one of those same candidates has now become the subject of a new lawsuit.

In the letters sent to Scott Van Meter (SD 34), Jim Evans (7th Congressional District), Leonard Jonas Hughes IV (SD 8), and Noga Sachs (2nd Congressional District), the MRP said that they had discovered evidence that they were not Republican candidates.

Missouri Republican Party seeks to remove four candidates from primary elections, saying they are not ‘Republican candidates’

But a lawsuit filed on Monday, April 30, by the 34th Republican Senatorial District Committee is appealing to the courts for a preliminary and permanent injunction against the Secretary of State, Jay Ashcroft, and Scot Van Meter.

The committee says that Van Meter is a Democrat, having been elected as a Democrat to the office of Buchanan County Assessor in 2016, which he has held since 2001, each time running on the ballot as a Democrat.

“It’s clear Scot Van Meter is not a Republican,” Jim Rooney, Chairman of the 34th District GOP, said. “Even after filing as a Republican, Scot Van Meter filed paperwork with the Missouri Ethics Commission on April 10 stating he was a Democrat. We filed this lawsuit to protect our primary elections from meddling for political gain.”

Upon learning of Van Meter’s candidacy, the members of the 34th District GOP unanimously voted to reject Van Meter’s candidacy and pursue all available legal avenues to remove him from the ballot. They point to the fact that his campaign filed a statement of limited activity with the Missouri Ethics Commission as a Democrat on April 10, 2018.

They contend that if Van Meter is allowed on the Republican ballot, it will “force an unwanted association with Van Meter… violating the political association’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. 

The committee also argues that state statutes give virtually “no ability to screen potential candidates.”

Some GOP members say that Van Meter’s campaign is just an attempt to steal votes.

“I’m grateful the 34th District GOP is fighting to protect the integrity of the Republican primary process,” candidate Harry Roberts said. “Regardless of the outcome of the court case, I am confident the voters will see through the political games.”
 
“Ryan Van Meter and Al Landis have offices next to each other at Herzog. One serves as Campaign Treasurer for Scot Van Meter and the other serves as Campaign Treasurer for Tony Luetkemeyer,” Colin Hoffman, spokesman for the Harry Roberts campaign, said. “It’s obvious that Van Meter’s candidacy is nothing more than a political ploy orchestrated by the Luetkemeyer campaign.” 

GOP cries foul over Democrat filing as a Republican for state Senate

“As someone who has been involved in many election law cases, this case is one of the clearest examples I’ve seen where a political party’s constitutional rights are being threatened,” Matt Vianello, the attorney representing the 34th District GOP, said.

The case has been assigned to Judge Jon Beetem, but nothing has been scheduled yet.

Read the filing below:

Benjamin Peters is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine, and also produces the #MoLeg Podcast. He joined the Missouri Times in 2016 after working as a sports editor and TV news producer in mid-Missouri. Benjamin is a graduate of Missouri State University in Springfield. To contact Benjamin, email benjamin@themissouritimes.com or follow him on Twitter @BenjaminDPeters.