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Ex-N Carolina lawmaker indicted in campaign finance probe

By GARY D. ROBERTSONMarch 19, 2019

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A former North Carolina state lawmaker was indicted Monday on charges of filing false campaign statements and his ex-campaign treasurer faces a related charge.

A Mecklenburg County grand jury indicted Democratic ex-Rep. Rodney Moore on nine felony counts of filing false campaign statements, the county District Attorney’s Office said in a statement. Tammy Neal, the former campaign treasurer, was indicted on one count of felony obstruction of justice, the prosecutor’s office said.

The charges stem from a state investigation of Moore’s campaign finance reports that uncovered unreported donations and expenses.

State Board of Elections investigators had disclosed evidence in October that they said showed Moore’s committee failed to report more than $140,000 in campaign contributions and expenditures over several years. They also said it appeared the campaign provided altered bank records when the board requested them. The board at the time unanimously referred the case to the prosecutor, whose office declined to comment further late Monday.

Moore, 55, represented Mecklenburg County in the General Assembly beginning in 2011 but lost in a primary last year. He ran briefly for Congress in 2016. Moore and Neal didn’t immediately return phone messages Monday evening seeking comment on the charges.

A board news release Monday said Moore knowingly certified under oath that false campaign finance reports were true. Those counts were in connection with reports from 2011 to 2015.

A review of three bank accounts and campaign reports since 2010 determined $141,107 in campaign contributions or expenses had been undisclosed compared to $96,424 that had been disclosed, according to a presentation by board Executive Director Kim Strach.

The bank accounts showed over $25,000 in cash or ATM withdrawals, along with over $15,000 for other undetermined uses. The law generally limits individual campaign committee expenses to those incurred “resulting from holding public office.”

The board began investigating following a regular audit of Moore’s campaign records in 2017.

Such audits “detect those who try to use their campaign accounts as personal piggy banks,” Strach said. “We hope these prosecutions highlight the importance of accurate campaign finance disclosure. Voters have a right to know how candidates are raising and spending campaign cash.”

Each count against Moore is the lowest grade of felony. Convictions would not necessarily require prison time.

Strach’s presentation in October 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. Neal served as treasurer starting in mid-2017 but was no longer identified as the treasurer last fall. When reached by phone in October, Neal rejected any suggestion she was involved in record-altering.

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