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Missouri Democrats take aim at Purgason and Joe the Plumber

The Missouri Democratic Party says it's filing a complaint with the Federal Election Commission about "Joe the Plumber's" unorthodox ad campaign on behalf of Republican Chuck Purgason, who's running for the U.S. Senate.

Such a complaint is rare, since it involves a candidate who -- at the moment -- isn't running against a Democrat. Purgason is seeking to knock off the best-known GOP candidate, U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Springfield.

And for months, the state Democratic Party has been unofficially encouraging Purgason's uphill quest, since it was seen as an embarrassment to Blunt.

But state Democrats say that the Plumber -- who's real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher -- "committed numerous violations" of federal campaign law, including failure to register his campaign committee, "potential illegal in-kind contributions" and "failure to comply with disclaimer requirements."

The ad on behalf of Purgason is running on the internet, with Wurzelbacher seeking money to run the ad on television. (Click here to view the ad.)

Wurzelbacher is saying that he's operating the campaign independent of Purgason's campaign, and therefore some of the federal campaign restrictions don't apply.

The state Democratic Party contends, among other things, that the ad was illegally coordinated with the Purgason campaign, which means that donation limits apply.

"If Joe The Plumber wants to meddle in Missouri politics, the least he can do is follow the law," said Missouri Democratic Party Communications Director Ryan Hobart. "For someone who claims that he represents the opposite of 'politics as usual', why does Chuck Purgason seem so content with a group from outside Missouri running illegal ads on behalf of his campaign?"

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.