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Complaint Says Gubernatorial Candidate Announcements Violate State Election Laws

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RALEIGH — In an effort to educate viewers before they head to the polls and to address the rising costs of campaigns, WRAL is offering the major candidates for governor public service time to discuss the issues during TV5 newscasts. A Greensboro attorney says the groundbreaking project violates election laws.

TheState Board of Electionswill decide whether or not to the pull the plug on the project.

Attorney Marshall Hurley filed the complaint last week; at issue areannouncementsby the major candidates for governor.

Hurley maintains the air time amounts to a campaign contribution and is in violation of state election laws.

"My concern is that if you provide free air time to candidates, that is an asset of a corporation going to a candidate, that other corporations are prevented from providing assets to assist campaigns," Hurley says.

Capitol Broadcasting says that the public service time is anything but a campaign contribution.

"It's not," says Senior Vice President Tom Allen, "because it's public service time. No politicians' commercials are used in this time, and no commercial air time is used in this time. It's a public interest campaign to inform the voters."

In the complaint, Hurley asks for a hearing by the State Board of Elections.

"Capitol Broadcasting is not different, it's not differentiated in the statute. There's not an exception for public service, and again the State Board of Elections is just going to have to decide if I'm right or if you're right," Hurley says.

The state board's next meeting is in May to certify the primary votes. At that meeting, the board will address this issue to determine if a full hearing is warranted.


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