A Farmville resident and fellow Republican has filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections against Rep. Brian Brown, a Pitt County lawmaker serving his first term in the General Assembly.
Todd Bennett asks the board to audit Brown’s campaign finance reports from 2012 and 2013. The complaint, filed last month, includes allegations that Brown’s campaign filed incorrect and incomplete finance reports with the Board of Elections. It also questions thousands of dollars in spending from Brown’s campaign to a catering company run by Brown. In the complaint, Bennett describes himself as a Republican political activist in Pitt County.
In a one-page response to the Board of Elections, Brown’s campaign treasurer, Greg Fornshell, deemed the complaint “politically motivated and largely nonsense.” Board of Elections officials say they are looking into it.
Brown faces a Republican primary opponent, Ashley Bleau, in May. The primary winner will face Democrat Uriah Ward in the November election.
Bennett’s complaint questions thousands of dollars worth of spending by Brown’s campaign at Rep Express Catering in Greenville, which Brown owns.
A search of Brown’s finance reports showed the campaign spent nearly $11,000 at Rep Express in 2012 and 2013. The expenses included more than $6,300 in the second half of 2013 for a fundraiser and town hall meetings, according to Brown’s reports.
Brown didn’t return a phone message left at his legislative office or an email on Tuesday. Bennett also couldn’t be reached.
The complaint also points out that Brown’s finance reports don’t report occupations and employer names for many donors. State campaign finance laws require that reports include that information for any contributions over $50.
Bennett also notes that the campaign’s ending cash balance from one reporting period doesn’t always equal the starting balance for the next period. For example, a search of Brown’s campaign reports show a balance of $3,940 on Dec. 31, 2012, and a balance of $55 on Jan. 1, 2013.
Brown’s treasurer said in his response to the board that he was reviewing the campaign’s previous filings and would correct any mistakes.
“Rest assured that if we determine that any report is incomplete or contains an error, the Committee will amend its prior filings consistent with the Board of Elections’ regulations,” Fornshell wrote in the response.
Bennett said in his complaint that because of numerous apparent discrepancies, Brown’s reports are confusing.
“Why are his reports so difficult in comparison with reports I had seen from other politicians?” Bennett wrote.