West Virginia Republican candidate for U.S. Senate John Raese is facing criticism for offering to pay money to supporters who write letters to their local newspapers.
The Parkersburg News and Sentinel reported that the Raese campaign distributed a flyer at a Charleston campaign rally earlier this week, offering "$25 to the person in each county with the most 'Letters to the Editor' published between now and when early voting begins."
The flyer specified "the article must mention John or Liz Raese and the date and publication."
Janet Dooley, assistant dean at Marshall University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication in Huntington, W.Va., took issue with Raese's flyer.
"Letters to the editor add voices and perspectives to a debate," Dooley said. "Loading a discussion with organized letter to the editor campaigns corrupts the notion of free exchange of ideas, and paying citizens to parrot a prescribed position as their own bastardizes the practice."
Raese's involvement in local media is not new.
According to Raese's website, he "serves as president and CEO of Greer Industries" and "is also Chairman of the Board of West Virginia Radio Corporation, which owns 25 radio stations across the state and is founder of the respected METRONEWS Radio Network, which has 56 affiliates reaching every part of the state. John is also vice-president of the Morgantown Dominion-Post, a daily newspaper with a circulation of approximately 30,000."
Polls show a close race in the Mountain State. A Rasmussen poll released Monday showed Manchin leading Raese, 50 percent to 43 percent. A survey release Tuesday by Public Policy Polling gave Raese an advantage over Manchin, 46 percent to 43 percent.