State News

State elections board dismisses campaign complaints

Posted October 14, 2008 11:10 a.m. EDT
Updated October 14, 2008 6:45 p.m. EDT

— The State Board of Elections has dismissed complaints filed against two national party groups seeking to influence the fall elections in North Carolina.

Tuesday's dismissal came after about three hours of hearings before the board involving the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee and the Republican Governors Association. The board voted 3-2 against a motion that would have found the groups violated state law.

Board investigator Kim Strach testified earlier Tuesday that she believed the groups were breaking the law by how they raised money on behalf of sister organizations registered in North Carolina. The groups disagreed.

Board director Gary Bartlett proposed a compromise that would have required more disclosure when money from the national groups was funneled to a state organization, but objections were raised.

"I think the allegations were an attempt to squelch people's free speech," said Glenn Willard, an attorney for the Republican Governors Association, which has spent $3 million to support GOP gubernatorial candidate Mayor Pat McCrory. "That's all it was."

Peace College political science professor David McLennan says political action committees – private groups organized to elect political candidates – like the two involved in Tuesday's hearing, become more powerful and influential as the election draws near, having raised millions of dollars in funding.

"The difficulty is they have produced some of the most controversial, negative ads, and there's a lot of controversy about who controls (them)," McLennan said.