Candidates, PAC in Bladen County disagree on meaning of contributions

Candidates, PAC in Bladen County disagree on meaning of contributions

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - An investigation by WBTV found that some candidates who donated to the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC failed to report it in their campaign finance disclosures. The BCIA is also sending conflicting messages about its objectives with its attorney saying the group does not make endorsements but its president saying something else entirely.

The BCIA was investigated in 2016 by the North Carolina State Board of Elections for illegally collecting ballots. Its President Horace Munn denies ever doing anything unlawful.

At a Bladen county townhall last month sheriff candidate and democrat Hakeem Brown vented his frustration about his November election loss.

“It’s one thing to lose when it’s fairly done,” Brown said.

Brown questioned the tactics of his opponents in this year’s election butt WBTV has uncovered records that raise questions about the relationship between his campaign and a group called the BCIA.

Finance reports filed by the BCIA show Brown made a $1,000 donation to the organization on October 10, 2018.

BCIA attorney Irving Joyner wrote an email to WBTV saying that the organization focuses on get out the vote efforts in the African American community and “the BCIA does not provide services to any individual candidate or organization.”

But that directly contradicts what Brown told WBTV over the phone. That BCIA poll workers passed out his campaign card but that “to my knowledge they did not do absentee ballot requests this time.”

On Brown’s own campaign finance reports he noted the donation to BCIA was for poll workers.

BCIA President Horace Munn told WBTV over the phone that the organization “endorsed certain candidates” and “we did have workers at the polls.” When asked whether those workers were there in support of Brown Munn hung up the phone.

But not every candidate disclosed their spending to BCIA. Michael Cogdell is a Bladen County Commissioner. Both Cogdell and another county commissioner named Ophelia Munn-Goins made donations to the BCIA leading up to the 2016 election but neither reported it on their campaign finance reports.

Neither of them returned calls from WBTV.

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