State Politics

NC GOP leader ‘boasting’ about skirting campaign finance laws? He says it was a joke

Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the NC GOP comments Friday, July 29, 2016 on the overturning of the NC voter ID law by a federal court earlier that day. Woodhouse was speaking at a press conference at the NC GOP headquarters on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, NC.
Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the NC GOP comments Friday, July 29, 2016 on the overturning of the NC voter ID law by a federal court earlier that day. Woodhouse was speaking at a press conference at the NC GOP headquarters on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, NC. hlynch@newsobserver.com

A North Carolina Republican leader was accused of “boasting about skirting campaign finance laws and laundering money” through the party’s treasurer, but he said his comments were taken out of context and were clearly a joke.

The N.C. Democratic Party sent an email to the media with an alleged audio recording of N.C. GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse at the Red, White & BBQ event hosted by the Eastern Wake Republican Club in Knightdale.

“When we need to take illegal cash under the table and when we need – I see none of the politicians are laughing – when we need to take the big liberal Hollywood elites’ money, nobody can help us hide it better than David (Cozart),” Woodhouse said. “Thank you; it was so hidden that even I was unable to find it or spend it.”

Woodhouse confirmed to The News & Observer on Thursday that the recording was him speaking at the event, but he said he was “obviously speaking in jest.”

“There’s no story here,” Woodhouse said. “This was a roast of a retiring treasurer at a barbecue. Clearly you can see it’s in jest.”

Woodhouse said that, in the recording, his comment about the money being “so hidden that even I was unable to find it or spend it,” should have made it clear that he was joking.

“Republicans don’t get big Hollywood liberal money. That clearly means it didn’t exist. I’m in the business of spending it, so I would know.”

The N.C. Democratic Party accused Woodhouse of being inappropriate.

“Apparently, Dallas and North Carolina Republicans think our election laws are a laughing matter,” Kimberly Reynolds, the party’s executive director, said in a statement Thursday. “These comments could have been funny, except that he and his party have shown time and time again that they’ll break the rules when they don’t like them. These comments serve as yet another reminder of the NC GOP’s hypocrisy and disrespect for voters and state law.”

On Wednesday, the N.C. Republican Party accused Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper of violating campaign finance laws. At issue is a conference that Cooper attended in June, hosted by the North Carolina Advocates for Justice, a lobbying group for trial lawyers. In addition to panel discussions on eminent domain, employment law and other legal issues, the conference also featured a “Roy Cooper fundraiser” session on June 18, according to documents provided by the GOP.

The complaint against Cooper “is well-researched and documented,” Woodhouse said. “It’s a serious issue.”

Woodhouse said the Democratic Party was taking a shot at him and the implication that the Republican Party broke or skirted campaign finance laws has “no evidence and is ridiculous in its notion.”

“It is not newsworthy that I tell jokes,” he said. “I tell jokes every day.”

To listen to Woodhouse’s comments, go to drive.google.com/file/d/0BzSOosPNPNWoSnNxX3Q2Zk1zc00/view

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