Senate Elections Committee Chair Violates Disclosure Law, Is Suspected of Excess Payments to Himself
A voting rights group today is calling on State Sen. Ralph Hise, chair of the Senate Select Committee on Elections, to recuse himself from any further involvement with restructuring the State Board of Elections because he faces charges of violating campaign disclosure laws and illegally pocketing more than $10,000 from his campaign account.
“Because Sen. Hise has such a strong personal stake in who sits on the State Board of Elections, he needs to step aside from decisions about its make-up and duties,” said Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina. The Republican-controlled General Assembly and Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper are currently embroiled in a controversy over revamping the State Board and giving appointees from each major political party the ability to veto its decisions.
“If the General Assembly had its way, charges against Hise or any legislator could be blocked,” Hall said. He pointed out that a Democratic lawmaker, Rep. Thomas Wright from Wilmington, went to prison in 2008 after the State Board found he illegally paid himself over $75,000 from his campaign account and failed to report receiving PAC donations.
Similar charges against Sen. Hise (R-Mitchell County) are now before the State Board, stemming from two complaints filed in March 2017 by Greg Flynn, an independent government watchdog in Raleigh.
The complaints allege that Hise (1) illegally paid himself $10,326 from his campaign; (2) failed to report receiving $9,250 from PACs; and (3) failed to provide required information about his donors and expenditures on his campaign reports.
After being notified of the complaints, Sen. Hise, who is a statistician, asked the State Board to give him 45 days – until May 4 – to respond to the charges. But as of Monday, May 8, he had not responded.
Hall said Hise’s campaign reports clearly violate North Carolina’s laws requiring disclosure of basic information about each donor who contributes over $50 during an election cycle.