The contentious Republican U.S. Senate primary in Kentucky now has Rand Paul questioning whether Secretary of State Trey Grayson is trustworthy enough to oversee his own election.
In a letter to the Secretary of State's office, Paul cites a "substantial conflict of interest" should prompt Grayson to recuse himself from overseeing the GOP U.S. Senate primary.
"Furthermore, your office has already demonstrated an inability to handle this potential conflict.
As you are aware, on the day I filed my election papers in your office, donors of yours were admitted into your office where they conferred with your staff to organize their protest.
This outrageous use of a public office to organize a political stunt indicates to me that you need to immediately step aside as supervisor of this election and allow appointment of a nonpartisan civil servant to handle this important task."
"We've seen a lot of dirty tricks from the Grayson campaign and are concerned about him counting the votes," said campaign manager David Adams.
Grayson spokesman Les Fugate told the Associated Press that the request is absurd and blatantly self-serving. Fugate said Grayson won't recuse.
After the Paul campaign said "Grayson does not seem to understand the obvious conflict of interest in his counting the votes," Fugate blasted back saying the Paul campaign lacks a basic misunderstanding of the role of the Secretary of State's office in Kentucky elections because Grayson does not "count" the votes.
The office helps set standards and provides training for county election officials. The Secretary of State's office, however, does not count the votes, but certifies the election totals provided by each county. On election night, the Secretary of State's official website complies those totals and provides a central location to track all results.
Grayson is the President of the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) and has taken credit for modernizing the the office in Kentucky.
Fugate added that even county clerks who oversee the actual vote tabulation of their own elections do not recuse themselves.
"It's a common sense request," Adams argued, "especially at a time when people are concerned about self-serving politicians."
Adams cited the appearance of Trey Grayson supporters "in full costume" mocking Paul when Paul came to the Secretary of State's office to file his Senate paperwork. The protestors were from a group that calls Paul "Too Kooky for Kentucky."
"The element of trust went out the window," Adams said, adding that "it was the straw that broke the camel's back," and not the first instance of the Paul campaign questioning Grayson's honesty.
The AP reports:
National Association of Secretaries of State spokeswoman Kay Stimson said the issue crops up from time to time in 39 states where secretaries of state oversee elections.