Local Politics

Deposition details illegal campaign contributions by Wilmington businessman

Posted June 18, 2010 11:31 a.m. EDT
Updated June 18, 2010 12:32 p.m. EDT

— The deposition of a Wilmington businessman released Friday reveals how he channeled hundreds of thousands of of dollars through employees and relatives to make illegal campaign contributions to leading state and national politicians.

Russell Miller “Rusty” Carter pleaded guilty in May to three misdemeanor charges for illegal contributions and was banned from making political contributions for two years.

In the affidavit released Friday, Carter described how he paid bonuses to employees of Atlantic Corp., a packaging company that he owns, so that they would forward the money to the campaigns.

He also said he deposited money to checking accounts in the names of his three children – Wesley, Ellen and Elizabeth Carter – then made political contributions in their names.

State law prohibits one person making a campaign contribution under someone else's name. It also bars corporations from making donations to candidates.

Carter’s employees and children used money he provided to fund the gubernatorial campaigns of Democrats Bev Perdue and Mike Easley, Democratic state Senate majority leader Marc Basnight and Senate campaigns of Democrats Julia Boseman and Erksine Bowles. They also funded the Bush-Cheney Republican presidential ticket in 2004.

In all, records Carter shared show $73,000 in illegal donations funneled through other people and $266,000 provided by his business.

In addition to the ban, Carter was sentenced May 4 to 30 days in jail, which was suspended to two years on probation, and was fined $5,000.

Carter’s attorney, David Long, said his client didn't know the contributions were illegal until Bob Hall, executive director of campaign watchdog group Democracy North Carolina, and State Republican Party Chairman Tom Fetzer complained about Carter's actions to the State Board of Elections.

In the affidavit, Carter swears that he was not encouraged by either political party to violate the campaign finance law and that he was promised nothing in return.