This article first appeared at American Lens News on August 11, 2017.
The NC GOP has filed a fundraising complaint against Governor Roy Cooper.
The complaint is centered on a fundraiser held for Gov. Roy Cooper at a trial lawyers’ convention at a Sunset Beach resort where the North Carolina Advocates for Justice was holding a meeting.
The NC GOP contends that Cooper broke state laws that bar legislators and members of the Council of State from accepting contributions from PACs or groups that employ lobbyists while the legislature is in session. The event in question was held on June 18th and the legislature adjourned on June 30.
The fundraising complaint states that “It is also highly suspicious that Roy Cooper’s campaign started collecting checks from some “Hosts” before and immediately after his veto of HB 467. Furthermore, according to calculations of the “Hosts” contributions to the Cooper for North Carolina event, this event netted Roy Cooper nearly $50,000 during “regular session.”
According to The Cooper campaign finance report for the first half of 2017, the campaign took in more than $15,000 on June 19th from individual donors identifying as attorneys. The NC GOP complaint says the number is larger – some $50,000 in donations.
The NC GOP alleges that the NC Advocates for Justice was strongly opposed to House Bill 467, Agriculture and Forestry Nuisance Remedies. NC GOP Director, Dallas Woodhouse, said that NC Advocates for Justice was “aggressively involved” in lobbying against that particular bill. Cooper vetoed that bill and the fundraiser followed around a month later.
“The fact that they had legislation pending that directly impacted their members and their association, that makes it, to my way of thinking, a much more serious problem,” said NC GOP Chair Robin Hayes.
Hayes elaborated in an emailed statement:
“We are concerned that Governor Cooper is following in the footsteps of previous Democratic Governors of North Carolina– going against the same laws that he is trying to impose in order to make a profit for his personal political agenda. Not only did he collude on a high-dollar fundraiser with a PAC during the regular session, but this specific PAC also had special interest in current legislation. Therefore it was no surprise when Cooper vetoed the bill like the NCAJ wanted. Governor Cooper’s campaign must immediately be investigated for any impropriety of ethics or campaign finance law to ensure no undue influence on the legislative process occurred. Cooper’s motives have always been questionable, but this time they might just be illegal.”
Cooper’s Side Fires Back on Campaign Fundraising Complaint
“This is a complete waste of time and a sad attempt to distract from the NC GOP’s flailing agenda, sinking poll numbers, and Governor Cooper’s popularity,” said NC Democratic Party Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds in a statement.
A campaign strategist for Cooper, Morgan Jackson, called the charges “baseless.”
“The event was hosted by individuals and all fundraising expenses were paid for by the Cooper Campaign,” stated Jackson. “This a baseless complaint that just happens to come out on a day that public polling numbers were released showing that Governor Cooper has strong statewide approval ratings.”
The NC GOP’s fundraising complaint currently has nowhere to go, however. The Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement commission is still in limbo and has no appointments to it yet. This is due to Roy Cooper repeated legal filings, four of which were denied, against the General Assembly and legislative leaders over the creation of the bipartisan board.
Read the complaint: