Following Suit

Last week I followed up my initial letter to the State Board of Elections about Justin Burr’s campaign finance reports with another letter focused on the Brooks Brothers suits:

Mr Gary Bartlett, Executive Director
State Board of Elections

re:
Justin Burr For NC House, the campaign committee of Justin Burr
Expenditure irregularity

Mr Bartlett,

On August 4th I submitted a letter to you regarding donor disclosure anomalies in the campaign finance reports of the Justin Burr For NC House committee. Since then, at least one expenditure irregularity has come to my attention that would appear to violate Election Law 163–278.16B Use of contributions for certain purposes, specifically:
278.16B(a) A candidate or candidate campaign committee may use contributions only for…
…(2) Expenditures resulting from holding public office.

The expenditure in question is the purchase of clothing:
03/27/2011 $857.46 Brooks Brothers, Raleigh, Suits/Jackets required for session

One of your advisory opinions on this issue states:
“In order to determine if your expenditure meets this purpose, we ask the question ‘‘would you have this expense or make this expenditure if you were not holding public office?’’ If the answer to that question is ‘‘no’’ and the expenditure directly results from holding public office then your expenditure would be permissible.”

It stretches the imagination to believe that Mr. Burr would not have purchased suits or jackets if not holding public office. He is rarely photographed without wearing a jacket or suit. If this expenditure is permissible, then the floodgates are open for all manner of tangentially related expenses justified only by the flimsiest assertion by the beneficiary.

Similarly, though less clearly, expenditures have been made for office furniture:
08/12/2009 $635.16 DAK, Carthage, Office Desk
08/14/2009 $950.08 DAK, Carthage, Bookcase, 2 drawer wood file
01/29/2011 $1,799.78 DAK, Carthage, Office furniture

It is my understanding that the offices of legislators in the General Assembly are provided with furniture. The use of campaign funds for such a purpose seems gratuitous.

I ask that you examine these irregularities, and if unsatisfactorily addressed, take the steps necessary to ensure that the committee is in full compliance with Election Laws.

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