Politics & Government

Mecklenburg lawmaker omitted required campaign disclosures – and she’s not the only one

Christy Clark
Christy Clark

N.C. Rep. Christy Clark failed to properly list some of her campaign donors on her latest disclosure report, prompting the N.C. Republican Party to file a complaint with the state elections board.

Clark, a Huntersville Democrat who unseated Republican Rep. John Bradford last year, did not list the names of numerous donors who’d given more than $50 — a disclosure that’s required by law. Instead, those contributions are listed under “aggregated individual contributions,” a category that can only be used for donors who give less than $50.

The complaint, signed by Robert Diamond, a leader of the Mecklenburg County GOP, says Clark “failed to disclose more than $15,000 in aggregated individual contributions from at least 87 individuals.” The complaint also calls on the state board to investigate what Diamond calls “suspicious donations,” in which Clark is listed as receiving more than 260 donations of just $1 in a single day.

Clark issued a statement Monday saying her campaign is working to correct the report.

“Issues with our campaign finance software resulted in reporting errors, which we are currently fixing,” she said in an email.

Complaints to the state elections board typically trigger an audit of a campaign committee, and campaign treasurers are given an opportunity to correct reporting errors and forfeit illegal contributions. A number of legislators and former legislators were among the campaigns audited so far this year:

Rep. Cecil Brockman, a High Point Democrat, forfeited an illegal cash contribution, and his reports sometimes failed to list the form of payment from the contributor.

Former Sen. Jeff Tarte, a Cornelius Republican, failed to refund two contributions that exceeded the legal limit, and his campaign held onto an illegal contribution from former UNC Board of Governors member John Fennebresque for five years because Fennebresque never cashed a check refunding part of his illegally high $8,000 contribution in 2014.

Rep. Larry Yarborough, a Roxboro Republican, failed to include several PAC contributions on his original reports, and his reports included other errors.

Rep. Susan Fisher, an Asheville Democrat, paid herself a vehicle expense reimbursement in addition to mileage reimbursements, and auditors required her to refund her campaign account $1,454. The audit also found Fisher’s reports were missing required information about donors and expenditures.

Rep. John Ager, a Buncombe County Democrat, failed to detail the purposes of 25 expenditures but provided the information after auditors requested it.

The latest round of campaign finance reports, covering the fourth quarter of 2018, were due Jan. 10. As of Monday, the state elections board had not received and posted reports from two legislators: Rep. Hugh Blackwell, a Burke County Republican, and Rep. Steve Jarvis, a Republican from Davidson County. Blackwell said in an email Monday that he’d provided information to his treasurer and “thought she’d handled it in timely fashion. I will need check with her.”

Jarvis did not respond to an email inquiry Monday about the overdue report.