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State Probes Fundraising by Fayetteville Mayor

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Mayor J.L. Dawkins is confident that no fines will be levied. (Rick Allen/WRAL-TV5)
FAYETTEVILLE — The state has launched an investigation into the fundraising activitiesof Fayetteville's mayor.

J.L. Dawkins has worked as a paid solicitor for the Fayetteville UrbanMinistry,but neither Dawkins nor the Ministry has a state license for fundraising.The mayor says they simply did not know they needed a state license toraise money.He insists no one meant to break any law, and he sees this as an honestmistake.This summer, when the non-profit organization recognized the oversight,its director notified the state and put a hold on fundraising.

The Fayetteville Urban Ministry is in an old downtown building that'sfalling apart.The ministry helps the needy through a number of programs, which have outgrownthis place.A brand new home is in the works, thanks to a fundraising campaign ledby the city's mayor.All is looking up. Except for one thing: neither the mayor nor theministry had a state license to raise the money.

"We didn't know," said Ministry Director Rusty Long. "We all knowignorance in no excuse, but we didn't know. We should have, and I guess,we apologize. We're sorry. But we're going to fix it."

Dawkins raised more than $350,000. He received about $50,000 of that as commission, a bargain comparedto some professional fundraisers.

The mayor says letters to potential donors indicated he was a fundraisingconsultant.The law requires you to say you're a paid solicitor."Probably, we need to explain things better from here on out," Dawkinssaid.

The mayor is very passionate about his work with the ministry and sayshe wants everything above board.Still, the state is looking into this matter and there's an outsidechance of civil fines. The mayor says he doesn't expect any because theministry's been up-front about the problem.