Charlotte lawmaker failed to report $10,000 in donations. The state wants his records.

Charlotte lawmaker failed to report $10,000 in donations. The state wants his records.
Democratic Rep. Rodney Moore (The Charlotte Observer file photo)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Jim Morrill/The Charlotte Observer) - Democratic Rep. Rodney Moore has failed to respond to repeated requests for bank records as state officials look into more than $10,000 in unreported campaign contributions.

The Charlotte lawmaker, a former Democratic House leader, has refused to turn over records despite at least eight requests from the state, elections officials said Tuesday.

Officials said Tuesday they found two more political action committee contributions to Moore that the candidate failed to report. That brings to at least 19 the number of unreported contributions, which total $10,200.

Moore, who is running for a fifth term, did not respond to Observer calls and emails over two days.

The Observer reported in November that Moore had failed to report 17 PAC contributions since 2013. The figures come from a public records request with the N.C. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement and an Observer analysis that checked dozens of PAC reports against Moore's.

On Feb. 20, Moore missed the most recent deadline to disclose his bank records, according to state elections officials. He was asked at least four times by phone and four times by email or mail, including a certified letter Dec. 18, according to election officials.

"We will continue to try to work with Rep. Moore to ensure his campaign committee is in compliance with North Carolina law," elections board spokesman Patrick Gannon said Tuesday.

Though elections officials routinely audit campaign reports, it's rare to seek bank records.

"There's a very clear line in North Carolina of what's supposed to be reported and when it's supposed to be reported," said Jane Pinsky, director of the N.C. Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform. "And we do that so that citizens can understand from whom their elected officials are taking contributions…

"You can't be someone who makes laws and then doesn't follow the laws you make."

Until November, Moore was a House Democratic whip. House Minority Leader Darren Jackson of Raleigh said Moore stepped down from leadership until questions about his finances were resolved.

Last month, when Moore filed his year-end report for 2017, he reported no contributions or expenditures for the entire year.

But just seven weeks earlier, on Dec. 15, CSX Transportation PAC reported giving Moore's campaign $250.

And on Dec. 1, the J.M. Family Enterprises PAC reporting giving his campaign $500.

In November, Moore said he'd fixed some discrepancies found by elections officials but acknowledged some contributions could be unaccounted for.

"I guess I'm just a bad bookkeeper or something," he told the Observer at the time. "I'm working with my treasurer to take care of it. The best thing I can do is try to work ... to clear it up."

Moore said some checks may have been lost. But spokesmen for two donors, PACs representing the N.C. Farm Bureau and Coca Cola, confirmed at the time that their checks were cashed.

Under state law, individuals can face felony charges for campaign finance violations, including signing off on a finance report that contains information the person knows isn't true.

Last year former Republican state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell of Concord was sentenced to up to 18 months probation after admitting to improperly spending and reporting campaign finances.

The state elections board could subpoena Moore's bank records. But there currently is no board because of a power struggle between Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper and the Republican-controlled General Assembly.

A three-judge panel Monday kept in place a recently merged State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. But they voided a portion of a 2017 law that dictated how members would be appointed to that board.

Moore faces three opponents in the May 8 Democratic primary.