By Theresa Opeka, Carolina Journal
Four candidates from North Carolina seeking U.S. House seats recently received letters from the Federal Election Commission warning them to correct errors with their campaign finance reports or face possible consequences.
Rep. Charles Graham, D-Robeson; Sen. Jeff Jackson, D-Mecklenburg; Democratic U.S. Rep. Kathy Manning of the 6th Congressional District; and Courtney Geels, a Republican candidate from Orange County; received the letters.
The FEC gave the candidates a date to respond by. If they don’t respond, they could face actions, including audits and fines.
Graham is seeking the 7th Congressional District seat that covers Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover, Pender, Robeson, and part of Cumberland counties and will face incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. David Rouzer in November’s general election.
According to FEC, he failed to file his pre-primary report. In a May 6 letter sent to James B. Hunt, treasurer for Graham’s campaign, the commission stated the campaign had four days to turn in the report before the letter was made public. The commission also said that failure to file it in a timely fashion could result in civil penalties, an audit, and other legal action.
In another letter dated March 21, the FEC said Graham didn’t include a description of why certain disbursements were made, and in another letter, dated March 20, the commission made reference to Graham’s July quarterly report, asking for clarification as to whether a loan came from his personal funds, a financial institution, or some other source.
Jackson’s situation is a little more complex. He is currently seeking a U.S. House seat to represent parts of Gaston and Mecklenburg counties for the newly drawn 14th Congressional District, but he had been a U.S. Senate candidate seeking the Democratic nomination until December before dropping out of the race.
According to a May 12 letter referencing Jackson’s April Quarterly Report, the FEC found that his campaign had collected too much money from several donors. Campaign contributions cannot exceed $2,900 from a personal or political committee to a candidate for federal office per election cycle.
The letter also mentions a refund of a general election contribution, but it appears that the original contribution was designated for the primary election. They asked Jackson’s campaign to provide clarifying information.
The FEC also said that Manning had collected too much money from donors. A May 22 letter to Manning’s campaign, indicated a person donated the full amount under her legal name and a nickname. The campaign also received a $4,000 donation from the campaign of California Democratic U.S. Rep. Pete Aguilar. Campaigns are only allowed to give $2,000 to each other.
In a letter dated March 13 that referenced Manning’s Year-End Report, the commission requested corrected information for totals listed on the summary and detailed summary pages.
Manning is seeking re-election in the 6th Congressional District that includes Guilford, Rockingham, and parts of Caswell and Forsyth counties. She will face off against Republican Christian Castelli and Libertarian Thomas Watercott in November’s general election.
Geels, a nurse from Hillsborough, will face off against Sen. Valerie Foushee, D-Orange, in November in the 4th Congressional District, which includes Alamance, Durham, Granville, Orange, Person, and parts of Caswell counties.
A May 30 letter from the FEC referencing her April Quarterly report and another letter, also dated May 30, that referenced her 12-Day Pre-Primary Report, show that her campaign listed her name in place of business entities when she paid out-of-pocket for a campaign expense on both reports.
The FEC states that authorized committees must disclose all expenditures from personal funds made by the candidates on behalf of their committees, just as they would disclose any other disbursements that they may make.
Campaigns paying over $200 to the same business in an election cycle are required by the FEC to list the vendor, its address, the date, amount, and purpose of the payment.
Geels listed herself and her address for those of the vendor and wrote descriptions like “In-kind for food and event fees,” but not the exact business and location from which those items came.
A call to the North Carolina State Board of Elections seeking comment was not returned before the publication of this article.