Missing ethics disclosures while election underway

A week before the North Carolina 2018 primary election day about one in six candidates had not filed state ethics disclosures required of them since a March 12th deadline. While election day is May 8th, voting has been underway since absentee ballots were first made available March 29th. Voters have been deprived of legally required ethics information in one out of three state primary contests and almost half of the NC House primaries.

The NC State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement provided a list of all 2018 candidates who had been recorded as having submitted a Statement of Economic Interest (SEI) as of May 1st. The list was compared with a list of 204 candidates for the May 8th primary elections for NC Senate, NC House and, District Attorney seats, and with online records of submitted SEI‘s.

Of the 204 primary candidates 35 had not submitted SEI’s, an overall non-compliance rate of 17%. The worst non-compliance rate was among House candidates where 25 out of 119 candidates had not submitted SEI’s, a rate of 21%. Among District Attorney candidates 3 out of 27 had not submitted SEI’s, a rate of 11%. 7 out of 58 NC Senate candidates had not submitted SEI’s, a non-compliance rate of 12%.

There are 24 Senate primary contests in 19 districts, 54 House primary contests in 47 districts and, 13 District Attorney primary contests in 12 districts. Out of a total of 91 contests 32 had candidates with non-disclosure, an overall rate of 35%. 6 of the 24 Senate contests had candidates with non-disclosure (25%). 23 of the 54 House contests had candidates with non-disclosure (43%). 3 of the 13 District Attorney contests had candidates with non-disclosure (23%).

The NC State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement is now responsible for receiving filings of SEI’s and campaign finance reports. April presents a “perfect storm” of filings. Candidate SEI’s were due March 12th and all other SEI’s of covered persons were due April 16th. First Quarter campaign finance reports were due April 30th. In addition to state committees, local campaign committees that meet threshold for electronic reporting now have their data files submitted to the state board. Thousands of reports are being received in the middle of an election with little time for review of timely compliance or, for inspection and digestion by media and the public.

[Note: The initial list was adjusted to include 1 Senate candidate and 4 House candidates, all incumbents who had submitted timely SEI’s but were omitted from the list. In the past few days since the list cut-off another 1 Senate candidate and 11 House candidates were recorded as having submitted SEI’s.]

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