GOP takes advantage of session break for fundraiser

Posted June 27, 2011 4:05 p.m. EDT

While lawmakers are on a 24-day recess, House Republicans are taking advantage of the break to raise some cash for future campaigns.

The GOP caucus is holding a fundraiser Wednesday evening at the swank 18 Seaboard restaurant in downtown Raleigh to generate donations of $500 to $5,000. Headlined "A New Day for North Carolina," the event will feature House Speaker Thom Tillis, Majority Leader Paul Stam and others.

State law prohibits political fundraising while the General Assembly is in session, so Tillis' staff recently obtained an advisory opinion from the State Board of Elections to determine if they could raise money during their break.

Elections officials said that, as long as lawmakers were out of session for more than 10 days, "limited contributors" – the people who represent lobbyists and their PACs – could make political donations. Lobbyists are barred from giving directly to lawmakers, but they can still solicit donations.

The General Assembly adjourned on June 18, but lawmakers are expected back on July 13 for a special session to handle any veto overrides as well as election law issues and redistricting.

Campaign finance watchdog groups like Democracy North Carolina decried the fundraiser.

“This kind of fundraising symbolizes the pay-to-play culture that Republicans said they would stamp out if they won control of the General Assembly,” Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said in a statement. “They are already so consumed by the chase for campaign money that they are either clueless or they don’t care that this event looks like cashing in on legislation delivered or still pending.”