A decorated government watchdog is attributing years of illegal political activity to the North Carolina Division Sons of Confederate Veterans Inc. in a new complaint to the State Board of Elections, recommending major penalties against the pro-Confederate nonprofit that received a $2.5 million trust and $74,999 payment through backdoor dealings with the UNC System last November.
Former executive director of Democracy North Carolina Bob Hall filed the campaign finance complaint Wednesday morning. Earlier this month, The Daily Tar Heel reported that the SCV has been violating federal tax laws, illegally facilitating political donations and operating a political action committee in violation of its tax-exempt status for years.
The DTH’s reporting prompted Hall — whose decades of public interest work has, among many things, garnered him a MacArthur Foundation “genius grant” — to begin his own assessment of the SCV, as well as the viability of taking his own legal action.
After about a week of follow-up research and interviews, Hall said he had corroborated the DTH’s reporting.
Now, his complaint calls for an investigation and extensive action by the state’s election authority, including the forfeiture by various Republican officials of thousands in past contributions they've received from the SCV’s illegally-formed NC Heritage PAC.
The five separate enforcement actions recommended by Hall are as follows:
- Termination of the NC Heritage PAC as a political action committee illegally created by NC SCV in violation of state (and federal) laws;
- Penalties against leaders of NC SCV for (a) soliciting contributions to the NC Heritage PAC during NC SCV local and state meetings, (b) depositing money intended for a NC SCV affiliate in the PAC’s account, (c) attributing PAC donations to individuals who were not the true donors, and (d) filing false campaign finance disclosure reports with the State Board;
- Penalties against NC SCV and NC Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans, Camp #1695 for using organizational resources to support the operations of a PAC;
- Disgorgement or forfeiture of any funds held by the NC Heritage PAC through payment of its funds to the NC Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund;
- Disgorgement of the $28,500 that the NC Heritage PAC contributed to state legislators, Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler and other candidates by directing their campaign committees to send payments to the State Board equal to the amount they received from the PAC.
A Board of Elections spokesperson declined to comment, pointing to a new policy which was adopted by the board and went into effect on Dec. 27, 2019, establishing a structure and guidelines for campaign finance complaints, including the confidentiality of materials gathered during investigations.
Hall told the DTH that the recent policy has no bearing on how the Board of Elections will assess his complaint’s evidence. He did say that under the policy, the board can more easily prioritize complaints of a serious nature for early investigations.
“These are serious violations that involve an organization in the middle of controversial dealings with the state and the University System, and I would hope that the Board of Elections would act promptly to get to the bottom of these matters,” Hall said.
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