Raleigh, N.C. — North Carolina politicians and lobbyists are running from an Internet sweepstakes company embroiled in a federal investigation in Florida.
International Internet Technologies was indicted Wednesday in Florida and Oklahoma on charges that it supplied illegal gaming software in Florida, claiming the proceeds would benefit a veterans group. According to The Associated Press, Oklahoma authorities say IIT owner Chase Egan Burns and his wife directed only $6 million of their $290 million profit to the charity. The couple faces racketeering charges.
North Carolina State Board of Elections records show Burns contributed more than $154,000 to state politicians and political organizations last year.
He gave to both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, as well as $4,000 to Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign and $55,000 to the North Carolina Republican Party.
The North Carolina Democratic Party issued a statement Thursday morning that House Democrats planned to donate an amount equal to Burns' contributions to charities that benefit North Carolina veterans.
The North Carolina Republican Party said GOP House members would do likewise.
There was no word on whether any senators, Democrat or Republican, would follow suit. The GOP didn't comment on the money the state party received from Burns.
McCrory spokeswoman Kim Genardo said the governor's campaign would donate $4,000 to the Durham Rescue Mission.
The law firm Moore and Van Allen, which lobbied for IIT in North Carolina, cut ties with the firm Thursday. IIT hired the Charlotte-based law firm early this year, after McCrory left the firm for the Governor's Office.
IIT provides software and operates some Internet cafes that offer online games that simulate slot machines. The company is working to continue operations in North Carolina despite a state law that bans sweepstakes cafes.
In a brief statement, Moore and Van Allen acknowledged it worked with IIT in North Carolina on legislative strategy and media outreach. The firm gave no explanation for severing ties with IIT, but a source told WRAL News the decision was clearly based on the federal investigation in Florida.
In addition to 57 people indicted in the Florida gambling scheme, Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll resigned from office because of her former public relations firm’s work with IIT.
IIT’s North Carolina operations have not been named in the federal investigation.
Allied Veterans of the World, the charity Burns operated, was licensed to do business in North Carolina until last year, when it's license expired, according to the North Carolina Secretary of State's Office.