NC GOP, Dems file dueling complaints with state board of electio - | WBTV Charlotte

NC GOP, Dems file dueling complaints with state board of elections


The North Carolina Republican Party (NCGOP) and the North Carolina Democratic Party (NCDP) have filed complaints against one another with the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE).

The NCGOP claims Democratic gubernatorial candidate Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Democrat Committee, Public Policy Polling, Red Ventures and The Charlotte Observer violated state campaign finance law through the giving and acceptance of improper campaign contributions.

According to the NCSBE, the sworn complaint was delivered to the office of Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach Tuesday evening. The NCGOP complaint came after a complaint was filed by NCDP over money laundering accusations. 

The basis of the complaint is a forum being hosted by The Charlotte Observer Wednesday evening called "The Truth about HB2." The forum is sponsored by local business Red Ventures.

"The stated purpose for the public forum is for a public discussion of House Bill 2, which has been a major campaign issue raised by Roy Cooper and the democrat party and various democrat candidates," the NCGOP complaint states. "While this event is being advertised as nothing more than a forum, its proximity in time to the general election and its focus on an issue repeatedly raised by the democrat party and Roy Cooper belies the true purpose and motivation behind the event."

The NCGOP calls the forum "'no cost' media event and live 'infomercial' for Roy Cooper, democrat candidates and the North Carolina Democrat Party," after the Observer endorsed Cooper and other Democratic candidates. The complaint also says Observer managers have "vocally and financially supported Roy Cooper and the democrat party."

Observer Executive Editor Rick Thames says there's no hidden agenda and the decision host conversation has nothing to do with the timing of next week's election.

"The whole purpose of the night is to have a civil conversation about an issue that has been very divisive," Thames said Tuesday. "We were careful to make sure the panel was balanced."

The initial document provided to the media by the NCGOP was dated Monday and the organization's release from Monday night stated it had filed the compliant with the state board. That complaint was actually delivered Tuesday evening and was signed by chairman Robin Hayes.

"This is one of the most blatant and flagrant examples of the Charlotte Observer using unethical and illegal means to drive home their point," Hayes said Tuesday. "The Charlotte Observer clearly should be asking Roy Cooper 'Why didn't you do your job as attorney general?'"

Roy Cooper campaign spokesman, Ford Porter, calls the NCGOP filing a "ridiculous attack."

"Even the NCGOP is currently funding ads calling for the repeal of HB2. Are those ads intended to support Attorney General Cooper as well?" he asked. "This is just an attempt to distract from the fact that the NCGOP is potentially violating campaign finance law by accepting over a million dollars in illegal corporate contributions. North Carolina deserves better."

Porter is referencing a filing the North Carolina Democratic Party made over the weekend with the state board of elections. It claims the Republican Governors Association illegally laundered more than $1,000,000 in corporate contributions through the NCGOP to support Governor Pat McCrory.

The NCDP claims campaign finance reports show the RGA funneled the money through a federal super PAC to the North Carolina Republican Party in a "last-ditch effort to bail out Governor McCrory’s campaign."

"RGA Right Direction PAC is a federal super PAC. Its only donor is the RGA," the NCDP said. "The RGA accepts tens of millions of dollars in contributions from sources (corporations) that are barred from contributing to North Carolina PACs and party committees and in amounts (more than $5,100 per election) that North Carolina PACs may not accept."

The NCDP said the RGA is violating the law by "laundering this corporate and high-dollar money from RGA to the North Carolina Republican Party."

Hayes calls Democratic complaints a "bait and switch."

"They decided in desperation to throw that out there right now to divert from the fact that Hillary Clinton's campaign is falling apart," Hayes said. "So the Democrats - it's a good political trick - is trying to divert attention from their problems."

North Carolina Democratic Party Communications Director Dave Miranda says it's the GOP document that lacks credibility.

"This hastily written, bogus complaint rife with spelling mistakes is their attempt to muddy the waters in an effort to confuse the media and voters," Miranda said. "The fact remains that the RGA, NCGOP and Governor McCrory’s campaign have broken the law, and we will continue working to ensure they face justice for undermining the very fabric of our democracy."

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