Sen. Hartsell’s company mixes personal, campaign business

Equity Properties goes beyond church rental

acurliss@newsobserver.comJanuary 19, 2013 

A company owned by state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell owns property in Concord with a church and two other buildings on it. His campaign made payments to his company on behalf of his tenants, records show.


Editor's note: The News & Observer incorrectly reported that Equity Properties of Concord was landlord of a community health center. The company helps manage the property.

Sen. Fletcher Hartsell Jr. and his wife own a business called Equity Properties of Concord LLC. In a required statement of economic interest that Hartsell filed with the state, its business is listed as “church rental.”

But it does more than that – according to Hartsell’s campaign reports, real estate records and a visit to three buildings owned by Equity Properties in Concord.

Equity Properties is landlord to a day care center, a community health center, and the office of a nonprofit that offers tutoring services and other community-based programs from a former church building. The company helps manage the property of a community health center. A sign out front lists church services there, too.

Equity Properties has received about $27,000 in payments from Hartsell’s campaign account since 2008, records show.

Most payments were listed as rent collections from several roommates of Hartsell, including, at one point, House Speaker Thom Tillis. Hartsell said his company was used as a vehicle to pool their money, with the company then making one rent payment. Lawmakers from outside the Triangle often share housing in Raleigh.

In August 2011, though, Hartsell’s campaign wrote a check to his business for $3,400. In reports, he listed $2,400 of that as being a charitable donation to two of his tenants.

It is not clear why the campaign did not make the charitable contribution directly to the nonprofit entities. Hartsell could not be reached for comment about that.

One of the tenants, the Multi-Cultural Community Student Union, was listed as getting the benefit of a $1,600 donation. Its CEO, Ruth Brooks, said she would not discuss her dealings with Hartsell. She did say that, “He does help us out sometimes.”

Under state law, campaign spending is generally supposed to relate to campaign activities. One exception allows for a campaign to make a charitable contribution, but normally the contribution is made directly to the charity.

Kim Strach, deputy director for campaign finance at the state Board of Elections, said all of Hartsell’s campaign transactions are under review and declined further comment. A lawyer for Hartsell also declined comment.

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