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February 2011: Legislative Winners Raise Mystery Money Before Session Begins

Ethics in Government

Requesting Disclosure of Post-Election & Pre-Session Fundraising

Earlier this year, Democracy North Carolina and the NC Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform wrote General Assembly leaders and requested that they voluntarily disclose campaign funds raised or received during January 2011 by campaign committees or by caucus accounts within the NC Democratic Party and the NC Republican Party.

Download the letter sent to Democratic leaders here, along with a summary of donations benefiting Democratic committees and accounts.

Download the letter sent to Republican leaders here, along with a summary of donations benefiting Republican committees and accounts. 

There were four important reasons why we made these requests:

  • New Decision Makers:¬†The change in party leadership in the General Assembly apparently prompted a flurry of activity by donors seeking to essentially ‚Äúcozy up‚ÄĚ to the leaders and members of the new Republican majority. From disclosure reports covering November 3 to December 31, 2010, Democracy North Carolina documented¬†more than $200,000 flowing from political action committees (PACs) into various legislative candidate and caucus accounts, with 96% going to Republicans.¬†Given this surprisingly large amount of activity, the public has a right to know how much additional money was given during January 2011,¬†before¬†the General Assembly convened and bans on fundraising took effect.
  • Continuous Fundraising:¬†Many fundraising events by both parties were held in January 2011, some in the days immediately before the General Assembly convened on January 26th. Because of current disclosure requirements, the public will not know who these funds¬†benefited for half a year and, in¬†many cases, not at all.¬†The public has a right to know who gave how much money to whom, in a timely manner, and what funds were given to party accounts in response to fundraising requests by legislative leaders.
  • Special-Interest Agendas:¬†Many of the PACs and individuals who donated after Election Day represent special interests with a wish list of policy initiatives they would like to see approved or laws and tax advantages they would like to see protected.¬†The public has a right to know if¬†legislative leaders have been potentially influenced by special-interest donors before the crucial votes on these matters are taken.
  • Full Disclosure:¬†Large majorities of North Carolinians, of all persuasions, believe that the increasing volume of money involved in legislative campaigns should be fully disclosed, quickly and in a format accessible to the public.¬†We believe our elected officials should show leadership in this area and disclose this information well before the end of the 2011 General Assembly session.

No one in either party agreed to our request to voluntarily disclose this information. However, as a result of our requests, a bill to require rapid disclosure of fundraising conducted in January before the long session begins is expected to be filed in the NC Senate this year with bipartisan backing. If you would like to be informed about developments in this area, please let us know and we will put you on an email list and update you as progress is made.