Group critical of super PAC donations

jmorrill@charlotteobserver.comJanuary 31, 2014 

  • Candidate fund raising

    House Speaker Thom Tillis has raised three times as much as any of his GOP opponents, according to their campaigns.

    Tillis’ campaign already had announced raising $1.7 million last year. On Friday Cary physician Greg Brannon announced he’d raised $524,000. Charlotte pastor Mark Harris raised $406,000. But Harris reported more money in the bank at the end of the year than Brannon.

    He had $255,800 on hand. Brannon had $143,300.

    Tillis had $1.3 million in the bank.

    Those figures are based on summaries of candidate fund raising released by the campaigns. Reports were due Friday. Jim Morrill

A super PAC that supports Republican Thom Tillis got $50,000 from two Charlotte-area “shell” companies last year, according to a Washington-based watchdog group.

The contributions helped the PAC, called Grow NC Strong, raise a total of $159,000 last year. It spent $64,000 on consultants, legal fees and other overhead.

The super PAC is independent of Tillis’ U.S. Senate campaign, which raised $1.7 million last year, three times as much as any other Republican candidate. But it was designed to help him.

Unlike campaigns, a super PAC can take unlimited donations from individuals or corporations. The source of the donations must be disclosed, but in the case of two $25,000 donations to Grow NC Strong, that wasn’t readily apparent.

One donation came last August from Dawn Properties LLC of Mooresville. The Center for Responsive Politics found that company shares an address with Randy Marion Chevrolet.

The other donation came from TC Investor LLC of Concord. According to records with the North Carolina secretary of state, the LLC is managed by Praescient, another LLC whose address is a UPS drop box in Concord.

Praescient is managed by Robert Stevanovski of Cornelius. He’s co-founder and chairman of ACN, which describes itself as “the world’s largest direct seller of telecommunications, energy and essential services” for homes and businesses.

Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, says the donations are examples of ways donors disguise contributions.

“Super PACs ostensibly are fully transparent,” she said Friday. “This is more evidence that that is not true. It makes it very complicated for people to understand the forces behind the effort to sway their vote.”

Neither Randy Marion nor Stevanovski could be reached late Friday afternoon. Nor could former Triangle lawyer Champ Mitchell, who heads the super PAC.

Tillis spokesman Jordan Shaw declined to comment on the donations.

Morrill: 704-358-5059

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