A legislative candidate is accusing two Sumner County school superintendents of violating a campaign law by using their school e-mail addresses to forward her opponent's campaign ad.
Ellen Janoski, a Republican trying to unseat Democratic state Rep. Vincent Wetta in District 80, said Tuesday, "Somebody who gains their salary from taxpayers, they are expected to be neutral."
District 80 covers most of Sumner County and the southern half of Harper County.
It would have been different if the superintendents had used private e-mail addresses and had sent them on their own time, she said.
Janoski, who provided The Eagle with copies of the e-mails, said she learned of the messages Monday. The e-mails were forwarded Friday morning from the school e-mail address of Wellington superintendent Rick Weiss and Monday afternoon from the school e-mail address of Argonia superintendent Julie Dolley.
The superintendents' e-mails came with an attachment containing a Wetta campaign ad, and each went to dozens of other people, many with school e-mail addresses.
Janoski is citing a state law that says public officials can't use public equipment, supplies or time "to expressly advocate" for a candidate.
Dolley, the Argonia superintendent, said she knew she was forwarding an e-mail with the Wetta ad attached. But she drew a distinction, saying the only thing she put in the e-mail was: "Tomorrow is a big election day for our area. Please vote!"
"It would have been different if it said, 'You really need to vote for Vince Wetta,' which I did not do," Dolley said.
Still, Dolley said, "I can see where somebody might think" she was endorsing Wetta.
Dolley said she supports Wetta because "he has been very supportive of our schools."
In the future, Dolley said, "I will be much more careful."
Dolley said Janoski was being hypocritical; Janoski sent Dolley a campaign e-mail Monday and asked that it be forwarded, Dolley said. Dolley said she didn't forward the Janoski message.
Weiss, the Wellington superintendent, could not be reached for comment.
Janoski also faulted her opponent, Wetta, saying his campaign should not have asked Weiss to forward the ad in the first place.
Wetta said: "If it's illegal, we didn't know it."
Wetta's wife, Marilyn, who is his campaign treasurer, said she is the one who signed her husband's name to the initial e-mail and asked Weiss to forward it.
"I really didn't know it was wrong," Marilyn Wetta said.