LUMBERTON — A complaint filed with the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement claims John Campbell’s state Senate campaign has failed to a file a finance report as required by state law.
Campbell blames turnover on his campaign staff.
“The complaint alleges Campbell has continued to raise funds and purchase campaign materials while failing to disclose his donors and who he’s paying for political services. Campbell’s social media accounts show him attending fundraisers and an examination of other Democrats’ campaign finance reports show contributions to Campbell’s campaign committee,” a statement from the state Republican Party reads in part.
The first-quarter report was due to the state Elections Board by April 30, and the second quarter report was due July 11.
Campbell, a member of the Robeson County school board, is the Democratic candidate for state Senate District 13. He will face Republican incumbent Danny Britt Jr. in the Nov. 6 general election. Britt is seeking his second term in the Senate representing all of Robeson and Columbus counties.
Campbell said Thursday he was not aware the complaint had been filed. The report is on the state board’s website.
“I’m looking at it now,” Campbell said.
The report was late because his campaign treasurer quit, and he had to get someone to help him file the report, Campbell said.
“It was not an effort to evade. It was just circumstances that happened,” Campbell said.
The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement sent a notice of noncompliance to the Campbell campaign on Aug. 31. The notice states that the first-quarter report has not been received. It further states that if the report is not received within 20 days after the date of the notice that the campaign will be sent a Notice of Termination, which means the campaign will be ineligible to receive or make contributions until the delinquent report is filed and any penalty incurred is paid.
Also on Aug. 31, the state board sent the Campbell campaign a Notice of Penalty Assessment for failure to file the first-quarter report. The penalty is $50 a day, with a cap of $500. Failure to pay the penalty will result in the campaign being deemed ineligible to receive or make contributions until the penalty is paid and the delinquent report is filed.
A copy of the complaint shows it was signed on Tuesday.
“The party and our campaigns routinely pull campaign finance reports of opponents. It’s common practice to see how all the campaigns are doing on both sides. We couldn’t find Campbell’s and neither could the Senate caucus. Actually, we just waited early on hoping Campbell would file it,” said Phillip Stephens, chairman of the Robeson County Republican Party.
The GOP had the information for a week, but held it hoping Campbell would file the report, Stephens said.
The Senate Republican Caucus was consulted before the complaint was filed with the state Elections Board, he said. The Republican Party and its candidates just want to see the report, as required by law.
“Hopefully, they will file the report,” Stephens said. “If the Campbell campaign hasn’t met the threshold to file and is in compliance due to not meeting the threshold, then that’s fine. But that would be an indication his campaign is over if he hasn’t received any funding or support. The complaint may even help their campaign coordinate their future filings in a timely fashion.
“We have no reason to believe his campaign is hiding anything and it simply may be that he missed the filing. So we hope the effect is timely finance reporting.”
Campbell has complained about what he calls a “dirty” campaign being waged by Britt, who has sent out fliers in the mail showing Campbell has bounced checks in the past, been convicted of mortgage fraud, and once was forced to repay the school system for money he took to attend a conference that he did not attend.
Campbell asked The Robesonian if it would publish an op-ed responding to the attacks.
Denise Ward, publisher of The Robesonian, declined, pointing out that the ads were not published in The Robesonian. Campbell declined the option of purchasing an ad, and the newspaper’s invitation for a story on the matter. Another newspaper did publish the opinion piece and on his Facebook page Campbell noted The Robesonian’s refusal.
The 465-word opinion piece begins with: “When you can’t win on ideas, throw mud.”
In it, Campbell says a last-minute family emergency forced him to be unable to attend the conference, and that he repaid the money in full. The school system recaptured the money by garnishing his pay as a school board member. He admits to bouncing checks over 30 years ago, but does not address the mortgage fraud.
“Mr. Britt’s mailer does not tell the whole story and is just another example of dirty politics. He plays the tricks of a typical politician, trying to take attention away from his own ugly voting record,” Campbell wrote in the op-ed.
Britt’s fliers also point to what he says are accomplishment by himself and fellow Republicans in the Senate, including increased teacher pay. Britt also lists examples of winning funding for various causes in Robeson County.