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. Continue reading
Today I file a complaint with the State Ethics Commission asking for an investigation into whether NC House Speaker Tim Moore and NC Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger have violated state ethics laws by using their leadership positions to intimidate and interfere with judges considering constitutional challenges to laws enacted by the NC General Assembly. The assault on the judiciary includes changes to judicial elections, judicial redistricting and a blunt statement of “profound consequences”.
A campaign finance report filed by the Ralph Hise for NC Senate Committee in August contains inconsistencies that compound previous discrepancies yet to be properly addressed by Hise.
The mid-year semi-annual report for the period January through June of 2017 was submitted by Ralph Hise’s newest treasurer, Amy B Ellis, CPA. Ellis took over in May after the irregularities in Hise’s campaign finances were the subject of a complaint and follow-up by this author to the NC State Board of Elections.
The Ralph Hise for NC Senate Committee has not reported a number of contributions, amounting to $9,700, that have been reported by various Political Action Committees (PACs) as having been made to the campaign committee of State Senator Ralph Hise. Also, the Hise committee reported a $1,500.00 “refund” from “University of NC” for a payment that was never recorded, making it an impermissible contribution from UNC. Today I filed an amendment to my complaint to the State Board of Elections to include these anomalies.
State Senator Ralph Hise appears to have received over $10,000 more in loan repayments from his campaign committee than the total amount of loans he has made to the committee. Since the formation of the Ralph Hise for NC Senate Committee in 2009 campaign finance records show evidence of 17 personal loans from Ralph E Hise Jr totaling $50,694.37, and evidence of 39 loan repayments totaling $61,020.98, an excess of $10,326.61. Earlier today I filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections regarding this, and other apparent irregularities.
Gary Pendleton’s illegal campaign signs around Raleigh are the least of his problems. Pendleton, running for NC State House District 49 against Kim Hanchette has used a facsimile of legislative letterhead to solicit votes in apparent violation of Legislative Ethics Guidelines. Pendleton is a relatively new incumbent, having been appointed 8/18/2014 to the seat made vacant by the death of Jim Fulghum. Official legislative stationery or mailing privileges may not be used to solicit votes and, according to a recipient of such a letter, it did not contain a required clear disclaimer stating that the stationery was not printed or mailed at State expense.
$31,818.36 is missing from the federal election campaign finance filings of the Marcus Brandon for Congress committee. A Pre-Primary report filed 4/24/14 showed a cash-on-hand ending balance of $31,818.36. The subsequent July Quarterly report filed 7/16/2014 showed a zero cash-on-hand beginning balance when it should have shown the $31,818.36 carried over. One $1,000.00 contribution on 5/2/2014 was reported. No expenditures were reported. The report showed a cash-on-hand ending balance of $1,000.00. An October Quarterly report due 10/15/2014 was not filed. While Cecil Antonio Brockman is still listed as the Treasurer, the July Quarterly report filed 7/16/2014 that showed zero cash-on-hand was electronically signed uncharacteristically as “Antonio Cecil Brockman”.
Republican Tom Murry, in an expensive campaign to hold on to his NC House District 41 seat against an effective challenge by Democrat Gale Adcock, appears to have stretched military rules and distorted limited experience in order to solicit votes. Murry’s campaign has been making extensive use of web ads, including Facebook promoted posts. One such ad on Facebook, showing Murry in military uniform, appears to occupy the boundaries of military rules on political activity.
Murry apparently joined the NC Army National Guard in June as a Judge Advocate General (JAG), just 4 months ago, and is now using his uniform in a campaign ad. Military rules allow the use of certain photographs in uniform in campaign literature, which accurately reflect actual performance of duty, and with a specific disclaimer, in the context of other non-military biographical information but not as the “primary graphic representation” as Murry has appeared to have done with his web ad on Facebook.
When Chad Barefoot quit his day job as Skip Stam’s assistant to run for a custom-made State Senate seat, he landed on his feet with a job at the political consulting firm of connected Republican Frank Williams. Campaign finance records show that about that time Stam’s campaign committee started paying a regular fee of $4,333.33 for “campaign consulting” to Williams’ firm Pioneer Strategies spaced about every month until Barefoot was elected. Beginning January 2012 there were 10 payments of $4,333.22 and one final payment of $8,666.66 on 10/17/12 for a total of $51,999.99. Barefoot’s campaign had the help of a lot of direct and indirect money, as thoroughly detailed by the Independent weekly, and he was elected that November.
Campaign finance records don’t show that the veteran politician Stam had ever hired Pioneer Strategies before 2012, or after, or that he ever paid such sums for “campaign consulting”. The closest that Stam’s records show is a one-time $4,200 in 2006 to JN Dollar for “mail service” and several payments totaling about $10,000 in 2000 to JN Dollar for “radio ads”. In addition there was one 2012 payment $1,500 to Pioneer Strategies for “website redesign”. You’d have thought that $52,000 for “campaign consulting” might include a website design, especially as Skip Stam is more likely to be giving campaign advice than receiving it. The coincidence of payments may not amount to a smoking gun, but there’s enough bad optics to raise eyebrows more than shot of botox could.
NC House members Tim Moffit and Tom Murry received campaign contributions from two South Carolina men who have since been indicted on charges of illegal gambling and money laundering totalling $386 million.
The campaign committee of Tom Murry, NC House District 41, received a $2,000 check from J Michael Caldwell of South Carolina, listed as “President” of a company simply stated as “Gateway”, on 1/29/2013, one day before the North Carolina State House reconvened (after a 1/9/2013 organizational session). On the same day, 1/29/2013, the campaign committee of Tim Moffitt, NC House District 116, received a $2,000 check from Bobby Mosley of South Carolina, listed only as “Principal” with no employer notation. Caldwell is Mosley’s son-in-law and together they ran a gambling enterprise spanning multiple corporate entities and over 600 internet cafes in multiple states.
On 8/14/2013 an indictment was entered in federal court in South Carolina naming J Michael Caldwell, Bobby Mosley, Sr., Gateway Systems, LLC, Gateway Gaming, LLC, Frontier Software Systems, LLC and Frontier Gaming, Inc, as defendants on one count of conducting an illegal gambling business and one count of money laundering related to the alleged illegal gambling. It has been described as “the biggest gambling ring bust in South Carolina history.”