The N.C. Democratic Party has filed a complaint accusing Republican groups of illegally helping Gov. Pat McCrory by violating the prohibition on corporate contributions and the limit on how much individuals can contribute to political campaigns.
The complaint asks state elections officials to order the N.C. Republican Party and McCrory’s campaign committee to disgorge more than $1 million received from the Republican Governors Association and its super PAC, RGA Right Direction. It also asks for fines against the organizations, and a determination before the Nov. 8 election that their financing scheme is illegal.
“After being out-raised and down in the polls this is a desperate attempt by McCrory supporters to buy an election with illegal contributions,” Kimberly Reynolds, executive director of the state Democratic Party, said at a news conference Monday.
On Tuesday, Thomas Stark, an attorney for the N.C. GOP, wrote a letter to the N.C. Democratic Party attorney, John Wallace, saying the funds the Republican Party received were legal and calling the complaint “false and malicious.” Stark called on the Democrats to return all contributions received through a similar fundraising scheme.
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Jon Thompson, communications director for the Republican Governors Association, also disputed the allegations.
“This baseless complaint from the North Carolina Democratic Party is a direct attempt to mislead voters,” Thompson said in a statement issued Monday. “The RGA’s contributions contained no corporate dollars, as compliant with state law. Unable to articulate a cohesive message about the issues or counter North Carolina’s positive momentum, it’s no surprise that Roy Cooper and his friends are using outright falsehoods and fabrications as the closing message for his struggling campaign.”
The complaint was filed Saturday. The state Board of Elections director gave the parties involved until 6 p.m. Tuesday to respond. Responses came in Tuesday evening from the RGA, the N.C. GOP and the McCrory campaign.
North Carolina law forbids corporate contributions to candidates or their campaign committees. It also limits contributions to $5,100 for each person in each election cycle. The RGA accepts corporate contributions and individual contributions in excess of the state limit, and is the only source of funding for RGA Right Direction, which sent the money to North Carolina’s GOP.
As a super PAC, RGA Right Direction can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals. Since the RGA is the sole source of funding for the super PAC and its money comes from sources that would not be allowed under North Carolina law, Democrats argue, state campaign finance laws have been violated.
The RGA, however, says the committee registered in North Carolina does not receive corporate contributions made to the RGA.
Wallace, an attorney who has represented the N.C. Democratic Party since the early 1980s, said at the news conference he has never seen such a flagrant violation. “This is clear, wrongful and intentional,” he said.
The Democratic Governors Association this month contributed $1 million to the N.C. Democratic Party through its independent expenditure committee, Democratic Action.
But Democratic Action accepts only contributions of less than $5,000 a year and has not accepted corporate contributions, according to its most recent federal report.