In an interview at WRAL today, Orange Co. Dem Bill Faison said he's giving up all legislative reimbursement while he's on the campaign trail - and he says his challengers should refuse to accept public money, too.
"I think it's inappropriate that any candidate for governor would be paid by the state while they're raising money for their campaign, or paid by the state while they're going around running for governor," Faison said. "I called the Fiscal office at the Legislature today and told them I do not want any compensation of any kind while I'm running for governor."
"I would call on my opposition to do the same thing," he added. "I don't think anybody ought to be paid by the state to run for governor."
The only 2012 challenger that would apply to would be Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton.
Actually, state law draws some very clear lines about using public resources for campaign purposes. Elected officials can't use state-funded equipment, personnel, or even space to solicit votes or money.
Faison himself walked close to that line earlier this month. At a news conference he called in the legislature's press room, he distributed materials on campaign letterhead. But because he didn't ask for money or votes, election experts say he was probably within the law.
He says other candidates might be crossing it.
"The idea that during that [nine hour work day] time, in a gubernatorial race, these folks are not on the phone making fundraising calls? Or going to events to promote their candidacy?" Faison asked. "I don't think it's realistic."
"I'm not suggesting anybody quit," Faison clarified. "I just don't think they ought to take compensation for doing it."
What about those candidates who can't afford to go nine months without a paycheck? Wouldn't that dissuade them from running?
"I don't know how that works," Faison said. "And there aren't that many people who run for office to start with."
Faison's net worth isn't clear, and he has declined to release his tax returns. But he's wealthy enough to loan his gubernatorial campaign half a million dollars.
When asked if he was still self-funded, he replied that he is raising money, but couldn't supply any figures at this time. Watch the interview at right.
"Walter Dalton will continue to do the job the people of North Carolina elected him to do," said Dalton campaign spokesman Pearse Edwards. "The Lieutenant Governor believes the people of North Carolina deserve transparency from their candidates and elected officials. We would hope Mr. McCrory and Mr. Faison would follow our example by agreeing to release their tax records."