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GOP House candidate to expected to repay church for campaign printing

GOP House of Delegates candidate Charles Kinnison plans to reimburse a Randolph County church for the use of its copy machine to print political mailers, according to Kinnison’s latest campaign finance report.

In February, Kinnison listed the copying cost as an “in-kind” contribution from the Elkins Church of God Family Worship Center.

Kinnison, a member of the church, now lists the $240 copying expense under “unpaid bills” in his latest campaign filing. The money is owed to the Elkins church, according to the Jan. 30 campaign finance report.

On Tuesday, Kinnison said he revised his campaign report in response to questions about the church’s contribution. He said he was “unaware of any wrongdoing,” and no state agency contacted him about his February report.

“I strive to follow the law and pay my debts, and that will not be in jeopardy of change due to running for the House of Delegates,” Kinnison said in a prepared statement.

Federal tax law prohibits churches from “directly or indirectly taking part in “any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for elective public office.” The ban applies to monetary, as well as “in-kind” contributions, according to the secretary of state office.

The church’s pastor, Jamie Estep, previously told the Gazette that Kinnison acknowledged using the church copy machine to print campaign materials. The campaign letter apparently was distributed to Republican voters before the May primary.

Churches can’t take sides in political races. Doing so could jeopardize a church’s tax-exempt status, and violators could face excise taxes, according to Internal Revenue Service regulations.

Kinnison is one of two GOP candidates running for one of two seats in the House of Delegates 43rd District.

Kinnison and fellow Republican Mary Catherine Boltz face incumbent Delegates Bill Hartman and Denise Campbell, both D-Randolph, in the November election. The 43rd House District covers most of Randolph County and all of Pocahontas County.

Reach Eric Eyre at, 304-348-4869, or follow @Ericeyre on Twitter.

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