Local Politics

Fayetteville Lawmaker Under Fire for Finances, Nonprofit Ties

Posted May 30, 2007
Updated May 31, 2007

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— Another state lawmaker faces a criminal investigation tied to campaign finances.

The State Board of Elections could hold investigative hearings as early as next month into the affairs of Rep. Mary McAllister.  Authorities are interested in a loan repayment the Cumberland County Democrat made and in her involvement with a state-funded nonprofit group.

"At some point, Rep. McAllister is going to have to take care of her own business here. She's going to have to comply with state law," said Joe Sinsheimer, the former political consultant who filed a complaint against McAllister with the elections board.

Sinsheimer's earlier complaints led to the downfall of former House Speaker Jim Black and to a continuing investigation into the finances of Rep. Thomas Wright, D-New Hanover.

He said he sees a pattern of questions and conflict in McAllister's financial records. The state board is waiting on bank records to clarify McAllister's incomplete campaign finances.

McAllister referred all questions to her attorney, Jonathan Charleston, who said the allegations against her amount to simple mistakes, not corruption.

She faces questions about her work with Operation Sickle Cell, a counseling and testing nonprofit organization. According to tax documents, McAllister earns $115,000 a year as executive director, which amounts to about 15 percent of the group's budget.

Operation Sickle Cell receives taxpayer money funneled through the Legislature. McAllister sponsored a bill in 2005 calling for an additional $500,000 payment to the group, though it died in committee.

"What Rep. McAllister has done is an insult to those thousands of nonprofits that are doing the hard work out there," Sinsheimer said.

"A lot of people say a nonprofit is a for-profit for somebody," said Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham. "The question is, is that nonprofit a for-profit for a legislator? And if it is, it's something we need to be real careful about."

Misuse of nonprofit money sent former U.S. Rep Frank Ballance to prison and is part of the investigation into Wright. Lawmakers have passed tougher ethics legislation, but McAllister omitted her role as Operation Sickle Cell executive director and her affiliation with a church-based nonprofit on a new ethics disclosure form.

Charleston said many of the questions on the ethics form are open to interpretation and said McAllister filled it out honestly.

He also noted that Operation Sickle Cell was receiving state money long before McAllister became involved with it.

15 Comments

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  • sick of thugs 3 May 31, 2007

    Over the years, the question has arisen, "Does the Caucus allow only black members?" Pete Stark, D-Calif., who is white, tried and failed to join in 1975. In January 2007, it was reported that white members of Congress were not welcome to join the CBC.[1] Freshman Rep. Stephen I. Cohen, D-Tenn, who is white, pledged to apply for membership during his election campaign to represent his constituents, who were 60% black. It was reported that although the bylaws of the caucus do not make race a prerequisite for membership, former and current members of the Caucus agreed that the group should remain "exclusively black." Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo., the son of Rep. William Lacy Clay Sr., D-Mo., a co-founder of the caucus, is quoted as saying, "Mr. Cohen asked for admission, and he got his answer. He's white and the Caucus is black. It's time to move on. We have racial policies to pursue and we are pursuing them, as Mr. Cohen has learned. It's an unwritten rule. It's understood."

    Nice!

  • Nobody but Carolina May 31, 2007

    There are no longer income restrictions in order to draw social security once you've reached your retirement age. All that changed some 5 to 7 years ago. In fact, as you continue to work and pay in to social security, your social security will increase.

  • yruatwit May 31, 2007

    The Black Caucus (as are many other groups within the political arena) is merely a front for manipulative corruption and unethical behavior. Each member has one primary and governing agenda........................themselves. These allegations only serve to exemplify that.

  • Arbi May 31, 2007

    "Non-profit"? Yeah right. this sort of activity goes on all the time. she just got caught.

  • baldy64 May 30, 2007

    Take a look at her economic interest form on page 6--it lists as income "state and private" under her name, then a quotation mark on the next line (meaning her name should be repeated on that line) and says "social security."

    If she is the one receiving social security, how does she get away with making her legislative salary, the $115,000 salary from the sickle cell foundation, and still collect social security? I thought you couldn't make more than $10,000 or so a year in income in order to continue collecting your social security?

    I'm hoping the quotation mark is a mistake, and she meant to put her husband's name there as the one collecting social security???

  • alleycat May 30, 2007

    Not only does this woman deserve to be in jail, but along with her, all the other legislators who looked the other way while this scam was going on.
    Good point, maybe if they all tasted a little bit of Bubba they would get their act together.

    Its time McCallister quit hiding behind her lawyer and give some straight answers. I'm tired of tax money being wasted on nothing programs.

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy May 30, 2007

    and yet they still want more money....REALLY PEOPLE!!!! QUIT ELECTING THESE SCUM!

  • blueridgelab May 30, 2007

    You need only look to the legislative Black Caucus to understand how money is so freely funneled to these so called non-profits where funds are misappropriated and mysteriously disappear. The Black Caucus should be abolished.

  • FE May 30, 2007

    Just another day in the legislature. RetSBI nailed it perfectly!

    But, OF COURSE her constituents continued to elect her to the legislature.

    Al, Jesse (see "Rainbow PUSH Coalition"), and others probably have a slightly different perspective on these issues, you know. Maybe they will feel a need to visit Cumberland County in the near future.

  • Halyard May 30, 2007

    I hope they fry them all!!!! The NC legislative branch needs cleaning out from bottom to top!

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