AP NEWS

Board: N Carolina lawmaker didn’t disclose $140K in activity

October 17, 2018

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s elections board sent to prosecutors Wednesday the case of a state House member whom investigators allege failed to report over $140,000 in campaign contributions expenditures over several years.

The elections panel voted unanimously to send their findings involving Democratic Rep. Rodney Moore of Charlotte and his campaign to the Mecklenburg County district attorney for possible charges.

The board decided there is “clear and convincing evidence” that false campaign reports were signed while treated under oath as complete and correct, as well as that unlawful spending of campaign contributions occurred.

Board Executive Director Kim Strach also presented evidence to the nine-member board — for Democrats, four Republicans and an unaffiliated member — that indicated the campaign provided altered bank records. The board began investigating last year following a regular audit of Moore’s campaign records, Strach said.

“As the altered documents show, clearly this committee engaged in obstructing our audit and obstructing our ability to determine whether or not the committee was in compliance,” she told the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. Filing a false report is a low-grade felony, with no active prison time on a first offense. The unlawful spending would be a misdemeanor. Obstruction of justice is also possible, board member Joshua Malcolm said.

Moore has served in the General Assembly since 2011 but lost in a May primary. He ran briefly for Congress in 2016.

Moore and former campaign treasurer Tammy Neal, both identified in the board’s referral, didn’t attend Wednesday meeting.

Reached by phone, Moore said he was already scheduled to be out of state Wednesday and had no comment on the referral “until I’m sure what they’re alleging.”

Strach said Neal, who was treasurer starting in mid-2017 but is no longer identified as such, provided board investigators with bank records later determined to have been altered. Neal rejected the allegations identified in the referral and any suggestion she was involved in record-altering.

“I think that’s ludicrous because first, I don’t know how to do that,” she said in a phone interview, adding that she’s been trying to get information to investigators: “We’ve been asking, ‘what else do you need?’ ... We’re trying to get this thing cleared up.”

Strach told the board the audit was expanded when it was determined Moore’s campaign reports didn’t include contributions from other sources that reported their donations. Moore wouldn’t authorize the board to examine his bank records, according to Strach, leading to board subpoenas to access them.

The review of three bank accounts and campaign reports since 2010 determined $141,107 in contributions or expenses had been disclosed compared to $96,424 that had been disclosed, according to a presentation by Strach. The bank accounts show over $25,000 in cash or ATM withdrawals, along with over $15,000 for other undetermined uses.

State law generally limits individual campaign committee expenses to those incurred “resulting from holding public office.” Strach said the cash withdrawals are likely transactions where the law was violated. Her presentation showed a June 2016 campaign bank account provided by Neal showing an end balance of $42,294, but Strach said a subpoenaed record covering the same period showed a balance of $1,577.

Strach said campaign finance law is designed to show the public how a candidate’s funds are received and expended.

With Moore’s case, she said, “the majority of transactions that went in and out of that committee, the public never got the opportunity to see. So I think it’s very serious.”