MADISON (WKOW) -- A spokesperson for a Dane County judicial candidate told 27 News an email solicitation in apparent violation of state supreme court rules was drafted mistakenly to include the candidate's name.
The Mar. 19 email from candidate Rhonda Lanford highlighted her campaign's new television ad. It asked recipients, "Can you chip in $10 to keep our ad on the air?"
The email solicitation is signed, "Rhonda."
Supreme court rules bar judicial candidates from personally soliciting or accepting campaign contributions. Wisconsin Judicial Commission executive director Jim Alexander said the prohibition includes written appeals. "They can't sign letters saying, 'Contribute to my fund.' " Alexander spoke to 27 News about the rules, and has not reviewed Lanford's email.
"Rhonda and I know the rules of judicial conduct," Lanford campaign manager Jeremy Jansen told 27 News.
Jansen said he was responsible for the email solicitation, and its identification of Lanford as the author.
"I drafted this email and I sent it to this list and I made a mistake," Jansen told 27 News. Jansen said the email solicitation went to approximately five hundred supporters.
"The email was intended to come from me, not Rhonda," Jansen said.
The mass email was sent out one day after Lanford's own comments appeared to reference direct fundraising by the candidate.
In a candidates forum in Mount Horeb, Lanford said she longed for the chance to make her case to voters "...without having to spend, you know, a few hours a day calling up people and trying to raise money for your campaign."
In an interview with 27 News, Lanford said she was describing being present, as campaign staff members made phone calls to try to solicit contributions.
Jansen had no information on how much campaign money had been raised as a result of the email solicitation. Jansen said he could not comment on whether other email solicitations had been sent out, citing his recent hire.
As of early February, Lanford's fundraising lagged that of her opponent, Judge Rebecca St. John.
Lanford, a Madison attorney, and St. John square off in next week's election.
For more on Lanford's forum comment: http://addins.wkow.com/blogs/scoop/2013/03/judge-candidate-clarifies-comments-about-fundraising