Under the Dome

Dome: Campaign finance reports lag

Staff writersMarch 11, 2013 

The State Board of Elections is sending more than 150 letters to candidate, party, PAC and other committees that haven’t filed required fourth-quarter or year-end campaign finance reports for 2012, according to a report from Patrick Gannon of The Insider.

Gannon said Kim Strach, the board’s deputy director for campaign reporting, couldn’t immediately provide names of the committees receiving the letters, but said at least one sitting General Assembly member’s committee is among them. Those who don’t file will be fined or risk being unable to receive contributions or spend money until the issues are addressed.

He writes: “ ‘The number of committees that failed to file reports represents nearly one in 10 of the 1,725 committees required by law to file them. ... Of those 1,725 committees, 555, or 32 percent, filed their most recent reports electronically,’ Strach said. For those that don’t file electronically, someone at the state board must type the information by hand. Strach said there is a ‘huge backlog’ of reports that must be keyed into the database, meaning up-to-date information about campaign contributions and spending won’t be found during searches of the campaign finance disclosure database on the board’s website. ‘It’s only as good as the data that’s been entered in,’ she said. Information from reports filed electronically is uploaded to the database almost immediately, Strach said. Election officials say time spent typing reports manually could be better spent auditing reports and investigating misconduct. Strach told lawmakers last week that she hoped all committees would be required to file electronically so the board can provide more timely disclosure of campaign finance data.”

McCrory distanced MetLife

Gov. Pat McCrory said Monday he remained at arm’s length in the effort to lure MetLife’s 2,600 jobs to North Carolina.

“My commerce secretary led that recruitment effort,” the Republican said after an event Monday, according to a video taken by WRAL-TV. “My first direct involvement with the company was a day or two before the announcement, where I called the CEO when they told me a basic agreement was agreed upon.”

McCrory’s remarks, five days after the big jobs announcement, are his first describing his role in the deal, which has been questioned because the $94 million incentives package MetLife received was negotiated by the governor’s former employer, Moore & Van Allen.

In the video, McCrory said he had no interaction with MetLife when he worked for the Charlotte law firm as a senior director of strategic initiatives. “Not at all,” he said, shaking his head.

Bob Morgan, the president of the Charlotte Chamber, personally thanked Moore & Van Allen’s Mike Delaney, Billy Moore and Walter Price at the Charlotte announcement Friday. Price also leads the firm’s lobbying division in Raleigh.

Explaining his role at the firm, McCrory said he focused more on transportation and energy issues and resigned Dec. 31, days before taking office. “I did what we call client development,” he said. “I did some recruitment for them. I helped them on some city-type, municipal-type of issues to help teach the lawyers the complexities of issues of transportation and the environment ... and energy.”

Mecklenburg County commissioners are questioning the local match for the state incentives, saying MetLife seemed to have picked Charlotte for half the jobs before the money package was even approved. McCrory said he didn’t know whether that was the case.

Voter fraud low

State Democratic chairman Randy Voller said the Republicans efforts to pass a voter photo ID law was trying to fix a problem that does not exist.

“You are more likely to be struck by lightning or win the lottery than to have real voter fraud occur,” Voller said at a news conference at state Democratic headquarters Monday.

During the past 12 years, there have been 1,032 cases of voter fraud that have been referred by the State Board of Elections to local district attorney’s office for possible prosecution. But only one case involved impersonation of another voter – the type of fraud that a photo ID is designed to stop.

More than 21 million ballots were cast in North Carolina during that period.

The House Elections Committee has scheduled a hearing on the issue Tuesday at 4 p.m.

Staff writers John Frank and Rob Christensen

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