Local Politics

Elections audit details questions of lawmaker's spending

Posted September 11, 2009 4:28 p.m. EDT
Updated September 11, 2009 5:14 p.m. EDT

— An audit letter from the State Board of Elections to state Rep. Ty Harrell includes hundreds of questions about the Wake County Democrat's spending in recent months.

In a campaign finance report Harrell filed last week, he reported 165 expenditures for the first six months of this year – an unusually large number for a non-election year.

Some of the expenses include the notations "candidate obligation," "volunteer recruitment" or "donor cultivation" to explain the purpose of the expense. The Board of Elections wants Harrell to provide documentation to clarify how his campaign money was spent and to demonstrate that it was for official purposes.

Under state law, campaign money can be used only for campaign-related expenses. Money can't be spent for personal use.

An sent Thursday to Harrell's campaign finance chairman questions hundreds of expenses dating to January 2007, including $235 spent last November at Lamb's Ear, a high-end children's clothing store in North Hills, and $191 he spent at Sharon's Luggage. He said in his report that both expenses were for a "committee meeting."

Harrell also paid himself $500 in April for a "candidate obligation," according to the audit letter.

House Speaker Joe Hackney on Wednesday asked a legislative ethics panel to examine "irregularities" in Harrell's campaign finance reports to determine if they violate ethics rules, criminal law or both.

Harrell told WRAL News this week that all of the expenses are legitimate. He said he feels confident his actions will be cleared by the investigation.