RALEIGH – A Raleigh-based social welfare organization that has campaigned for Republican incumbent Rep. Jonathan Jordan and against his challenger Democrat Ray Russell is the subject of an illegal campaign spending complaint filed Oct. 18 by the Democratic Party of North Carolina.
Improper campaigning allegations have been brought by the Republicans, too. According to the Raleigh News and Observer, on Oct. 22, the North Carolina Republican Party filed a complaint against Democratic N.C. Supreme Court candidate Anita Earls’ campaign.
The NCGOP alleges illegal coordination between her campaign and the independent group N.C. Families First, which an attorney for N.C. Families First denies, saying everything was legal. An Earls campaign spokesperson told the News and Observer that the campaign wasn’t involved with N.C. Families First.
In its complaint, DPNC accuses the Carolina Leadership Coalition of failure to report contributions and independent expenditures, unlawful contributions to candidates, failure to register and report and illegal coordination between candidates and an independent expenditure group.
The complaint to the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement claims that Carolina Leadership Coalition has worked in conjunction with N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore of Kings Mountain in violation of election law since it hasn’t filed a report with the state elections board since 2016.
The complaint alleges the group spent sums in excess of $300,000 in 2018 that were not reported to the NCSBE in specific state House races.
Another allegation by the DPNC was that while not filing reports with the state elections board, the CLC conducted polling in April and May to aide state Republicans in determining which potential state amendments they should put on the November ballot to increase turnout among right-wing voters, specifically showing Republicans highly favored the right to hunt, fish and harvest wildlife and voter ID amendments.
Along with Jordan and Moore, the group campaigned positively for Republicans Rep. Bill Brawley of the 103rd House District, Rep. Mike Clampitt of the 119th House District, Rep. John Sauls of the 51st House District, Rep. John Adcock of the 37th House District, and Republican Whip Rep. Chris Malone of the 35th House District and negatively against nine different state House Democratic candidates.
According to a table of known expenditures in the complaint’s claims for relief, the CLC ran negative Facebook ads and mailed fliers against Russell in August, which called Russell a “nutty professor,” among other claims.
CLC also ran positive advertisements and mailed fliers in August for Jordan.
In a post titled “NC Political Environment” on CLC’s website, it views the N.C. House 93 race between Jordan and Russell as a “swing” district, saying the polling was within the margin or error and could be won by either candidate.
“When I’m elected, I’ll work to make campaign financing more transparent so that North Carolinians know who really funds campaigns,” Russell said in an Oct. 23 statement. “Clearly, outside groups like CLC have an agenda that does not represent Ashe and Watauga counties.”
Jordan denies any knowledge of the group or the advertisements.
“I have nothing to hide because I have never coordinated with this group, nor communicated with them about anything,” Jordan said. “In fact, I didn’t even know who was involved with this group until I saw the complaint, and I still don’t know the persons named. I saw the mailers when everyone else did — when they hit my mailbox.”
Jordan called the complaint “clearly a political stunt” by the DPNC and criticized Russell for an Oct. 23 statement about the complaint.
“My opponent is so worried about losing this election that he is grandstanding and demonstrating blatant hypocrisy to mislead the voters of the High Country,” Jordan said. “I will let my proven track record of hard work on behalf of my constituents speak for itself.”
Raleigh-based WRAL reported Thursday that CLC treasurer Victor Edwards declined to comment on the complaint.