A potentially very serious campaign violation has been uncovered in North Carolina.
TGP received information on serious campaign violations going on in Durham, North Carolina.
A pair of college students working on a story at the voting polls on Monday may have uncovered a serious violation of campaign finance law. The Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People PAC, the Foushee for Congress Campaign, and the Burkhead for Durham Campaign were each mentioned by name on Monday at the Durham Central Library by an electioneer representing the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People PAC. The worker identified himself as, “a poll worker/organizer for the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People.” The poll worker, who later revealed his name to be, Solomon Burnette, also claimed that he was working for the campaigns to elect Sheriff Clarence Burkhead as well as helping out the campaign of Valerie Foushee, and the committee to elect Chery Beasley.
North Carolina and Federal campaign finance laws clearly state that political campaigns, which are entities subject to strict campaign fundraising limits, are not allowed to coordinate with outside groups who are not subject to the same fundraising limitations.
In the video captured on Monday afternoon at the Durham Main Library, the students recorded the poll worker who claimed to be an organizer for the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People PAC, who was also representing and passing out campaign materials that were marked paid for by the Foushee for Congress campaign and the Burkhead for Durham Campaign. The poll worker was also handing out campaign materials on behalf of Chery Beasley, however, those materials were instead marked paid for by the Democratic Party which does not appear to violate campaign finance laws.
According to the PAC’s Statement of Organization filed with the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People PAC is a registered PAC filed with North Carolina State Board of Elections. On the statement of organization, the treasurer of the PAC certified that the Committee or Fund is in compliance with all applicable provisions of Article 22A, 22B, & 22D-22M of Chapter 163 of the NC General Statutes and that no funds are commingled with prohibited or other non-disclosed funds.
“There is an established understanding that PACs are supposed to be separate from the candidates,” said the student, who wished to remain anonymous due to the sensitive nature of the investigation, “When a reasonable person looks at what’s going on in the video, they would probably say: ‘This doesn’t look separate. Where are the lines and who will enforce that candidates and PACs are in compliance with the laws?’”
A clear boundary was drawn by the Supreme Court in its formative 1976 Buckley v. Valeo decision, which said that political activity by outside groups must be done “totally independently” of candidates and parties. A similar standard was set in the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act, which said that independent expenditures cannot be made “in cooperation, consultation, or concert” with a candidate.
The student believes that the video recording will prompt elections officials to investigate all parties involved in the scheme and put a stop to any illegal or undisclosed coordination by the candidates’ committees and outside groups. “The campaign finance rules are in place to ensure fairness for candidates on all sides of the political spectrum,” said the student, “An investigation should be performed by the authorities, and if they find that there are violations of campaign finance laws, those involved should be held accountable to ensure that all candidates running for public office are playing by the same rules.”
The video captured by the student is attached below.