Rep. Kissell lodges ethics complaint against ex-staffer

Rep. Larry Kissell (D-N.C.) wants to stymie a pending third-party challenge unions are mounting against him.

He filed a complaint Wednesday with the House ethics committee against a former staffer who is being recruited by the Service Employees International Union to run against him under the banner of a new political party.

Kissell angered labor groups when he voted against the healthcare reform bill in March. He won his party's nomination in May but had a relatively weak showing in the primary against a little-known opponent.

From the Charlotte Observer:

The union-backed party is called North Carolina Families First. It’s scheduled to submit petitions Thursday at the Mecklenburg board of elections to qualify for the November ballot in Kissell’s 8th District.

The group, backed by the State Employees Association of North Carolina, had been trying to recruit Wendell Fant of Concord who, until last month, was Kissell’s deputy district director.

In a letter to the chair of the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, Kissell said Fant had broken House rules by using his official title and government computer to work on his own Veterans Administration case.

In addition, Kissell said Fant failed to report outside employment as a representative and recruiter for a mortgage marketing company called Unlimited Dimensions.

Fant could not be reached.

The new party had tried to collect 84,600 signatures to get on the statewide ballot. That failed.

Spokesman Greg Rideout said Wednesday the group will turn in the last of 30,000 petition signatures required for an independent run in the 8th District this morning at the Mecklenburg elections board.

"Once the petitions are verified," Rideout wrote, "NCFF hopes the voices of these voters will persuade Wendell Fant to run as an independent candidate in the district."

"If Fant chooses to run, it will be an historic first: No independent candidate has been on the ballot for Congress in North Carolina."

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