Monkey Business Report: Creative campaign finance disclosure

Judge Phil Berger, Jr. must have attended the same campaign finance reporting classes state Rep. David Lewis did.  Both men appear to struggle with the accuracy of donor information.  For instance  — the donor’s business / line of work.

A new complaint against Judge Berger sheds some light:

A campaign finance complaint filed against N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Phil Berger Jr. says he failed to disclose who paid for food, drinks and other expenses at his 2016 campaign fundraisers.

The complaint also says Berger — whose father is Senate leader Phil Berger — listed two donors as alpaca farmers instead of gambling business owners, and that several of the people listed as donors in his disclosure reports say they didn’t contribute.[…]

*Alpaca farmers. Gambling kingpins.  You can see how easy it is to get the two confused.  Um, RIGHT???*


[…] Bob Hall, who retired last year as head of the elections advocacy group Democracy North Carolina, filed the complaint Thursday with the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

Hall says Berger, a Republican who was elected to the court in 2016, is missing information in his campaign reports about fundraising events involving lobbyists and other state officials. Hall says he’s spoken to two people “who say they are sure they did not make the donation attributed to them on the reports,” but he doesn’t name them, promising instead to provide elections board investigators with their names and recordings of their statements.

[…] Hall’s complaint cites social media posts and invitations that indicated that Berger held three fundraising events in 2016 in Robeson County, Wilmington and Greensboro. But he says that while the campaign logged donations from residents of those communities, the reports make no mention of who paid for food and drinks. Campaigns are required to list those expenses, which are typically funded by the campaign itself or by supporters as an “in-kind” contribution.


“Based on the information available to me, it appears that the Berger for Judge Committee violated this statute regarding properly disclosing contributions and expenditures that benefit the candidate,” Hall wrote in the complaint. “The committee may have also violated other statutes … regarding ‘certification’ of campaign disclosure reports ‘as true and correct’ and … regarding timely disclosure of all contributions and expenditures.”

Hall says it’s clear that Berger’s campaign knew about the event expense disclosure requirement because his reports include the disclosures for another fundraiser.[…]

Now, HERE is the most troubling part:

[…] A final allegation in Hall’s complaint involves donations from Maurice and Mary Raynor of Pittsboro, who contributed a total of $10,000 and were one of the Berger campaign’s biggest donors. Berger’s report lists the Raynors as owners of the M&M Alpaca Farm, but Hall says they should have been listed as the president and vice president of Starlites Tech Corp., which operates internet sweepstakes parlors in Rockingham County, where Berger served as district attorney.

Hall argues that the donation came amid efforts by local law enforcement to close the sweepstakes parlors, so mentioning that occupation would be “more accurate” than the alpaca farm. Donors are required to list their occupation and business or employer, but it’s rare to see people who own multiple businesses list all of them on campaign finance forms.

Hall’s complaint alleges that while serving as DA, Berger told police to “hold off” going after the parlors. Berger was not the DA at the time of the campaign donation and was serving as an administrative law judge during his 2016 campaign.