Update 1:45PM: Johnston County Commissioner Tony Braswell has issued a statement. “It seems there are always a few who think rules and laws do not apply to them. As a candidate, we must ensure the materials that we place in the hands of the voters are coming and approved by the candidate. I find it very difficult to believe some of the suggested candidates did not know this was happening. If this is a true PAC, there cannot be any coordination with the campaigns of those individuals listed on this guide. Big money trying to steal elections from the hard working citizens of this county.”
Update 1:25PM: The NC Board of Elections has confirmed Citizens for the Betterment of Johnston County is not a political committee registered with the State Board of Elections by that name.
According to Lindsey Wakely, Associate General Counsel for the NC Board of Elections, “Because the group is supporting statewide candidates, it should be filing campaign finance reports with the State Board of Elections. We do not have a political committee registered with the State Board of Elections by that name, nor have we received any disclosure reports from an Independent Expenditure Filer or other group by that name.”
Wakely went on to say that the NC BOE needs more information about the group to know whether it should be registered as a political committee. Under state law a political action committee must file its organizational report within 10 days of organizing.
SMITHFIELD – A voter guide being distributed at a number of polling precincts in Johnston County today is causing controversy. The group Citizens for the Betterment of Johnston County has reportedly been handing out the “Voter Guide For Johnston County” flyers to primary election voters today.
The group is reportedly an unregistered Political Action Committee (PAC) in North Carolina. To legally distribute the voter guide, the PAC must be registered with elections officials.
Johnston County Board of Elections Director Leigh Anne Price confirmed she had received a complaint about the flyers. She has notified the NC Board of Elections and is awaiting their response.
Johnston County GOP Chairman Darryl Mitchell said, “The Johnston County Republican Party did not authorize, approve or pay for this flyer in anyway. The Johnston County Republican Party Plan of Organization prohibits the party and its officials from endorsing in a primary. This Voter Guide should not influence a voters decision.”
According to Facebook post by Save McGee’s Crossroads, a community organization:
Be Warned: Dirty politics are in full force today. An un-registered PAC is distributing illegal brochures. We have called the Johnston County Board of Elections and confirmed. The local board of elections currently has a ticket into the State Board of Elections asking for help and guidance. The head of the office claims she has never seen anything like this before.
No school board members are listed on the guide (nor the Lt. Governor) but two contested commissioners races are listed prominently – Fred Smith and Lee Jackson. There is big development money wanting these two candidates to win. This is your warning.
Please call the Johnston County Board of Elections and demand the PAC’s, “Citizens for the Betterment of Johnston County” brochures and those distributing the materials be removed from all voting sites. This is an un-registered PAC and as such, its materials are illegal.
Johnston County Board of Elections – (919) 989-5095
JoCoReport has reached out to the NC Board of Elections for a comment. We will update this story when we have more information.