RALEIGH, N.C. — The State Board of Elections slapped the Republican Governor's Association with a $196,000 fine for a controversial ad.
While Republicans say the ad focused on issues, Democrats argued it was about GOP gubernatorial candidate Patrick Ballantine. The State Board of Elections unanimously deemed the ad illegal, saying state law prohibits unregistered political groups from running ads supporting candidates.
The motion from the State Board of Elections passed along party lines with three Democrats in favor of the fine and two Republicans voting against it.
"I think it sends a message to the RGA and any other outside organization that think they might want to cross the line, that there are consequences," said Scott Falmlen, of the N.C. Democratic Party.
The RGA could have been fined three times the amount it spent on the ad. The group's attorneys do not think any fine is warranted. Standing by the commercial, RGA attorneys believe the political group is being treated differently than past violators.
"I think this fine is extraordinary in light of the fact that they allow them to register and get right with God without a fine," said Robert Hunter, attorney for the Republican Governor's Association.
RGA attorneys said the group will likely appeal. The fine was based on figures provided by the RGA. The State Bureau of Investigation is working to confirm the numbers. If there is a major discrepancy, the board can revisit the amount of the fine.