#nc-03: Walter Jones not done yet with Scott Dacey

The votes may be counted and the results finalized for the May primary.  But the first place finisher in the 3rd district GOP congressional primary, Walter Jones, is not quite finished with third-place finisher Scott Dacey.

According to a statement issued from the Jones campaign, the congressman is appealing to the state board of elections about alleged misconduct during the primary by the Dacey campaign:

[…] The May 2018 Republican Primary for North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District was one of the most talked about in the nation.   Congressman Walter Jones garnered the support of the voters, but now he has decided to take steps to protect all voters from false political advertising in the future.

Jones has filed a formal complaint with the North Carolina State Board of Elections dealing with an attack ad against Jones by one of his opponents, Scott Dacey.  The ad made national news for its outrageous claims and was widely debunked.  “I was fortunate to have a constituency that know me, what I stand for and who I am,” Jones said when asked about the impact of the attack ad.  “The good people of Eastern North Carolina immediately recognized the ad as a fabrication. I am now taking action to try to prevent this type of unethical activity from affecting the outcome of another election where the candidate might not be so fortunate.”

Jones is citing North Carolina General Statute § 163A-1388(9) as the relevant statute covering this complaint.  The statute states,“For any person to publish or cause to be circulated derogatory reports with reference to any candidate in any primary or election, knowing such report to be false or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity, when such report is calculated or intended to affect the chances of such candidate for nomination or election.”

In the ad in question and a press release that referenced it, Dacey claimed that Congressman Jones accepted, “over $80,000 in George Soros-backed campaign contributions.”  The statement was false and the $80,000 figure reflected campaign contributions made by individual contributors who donated via credit card directly to the Walter Jones campaign.  According to reports issued by the Federal Elections Commission (“FEC”), the credit card processing company used to process those contributions is Democracy Engine.  Democracy Engine has no ties to George Soros. 

The press release states that “Friends of Democracy” funnels contributions from Soros-tied donors to their supporting candidates,” implying that Congressman Jones received contributions from Friends of Democracy.  FEC campaign reports establish that the Jones campaign has never received a campaign contribution from Friends of Democracy. However, on Sunday, April 8, 2018 (2 days before the false campaign ad was first aired) a contribution of $1.00 was made through Friends of Democracy, earmarked for delivery to the Walter Jones Committee by Ryan Kane. 

This contribution was never accepted by the Jones campaign. Mr. Kane was the Media and Digital Director for the Dacey campaign and the “point of contact” listed on the April 10, 2018 press release making the false allegations. The Dacey campaign acknowledged that Kane was acting under the instructions of campaign leadership, not as an individual.  Jones believes this was an intentionally misleading and deceptive attempt to entrap the Congressman into accepting donations from Friends of Democracy.

Shortly after the false ad began airing, the Dacey campaign was issued a cease and desist order warning that the continued publication of the press release and continued running of the false television advertisement constituted violations of NC Gen. Stat. § 163A-1388(9).  Despite the clear warning, the Dacey campaign continued to run the ad.

Jones is asking the State Board of Elections to refer this complaint to the Wake County District Attorney for further action.  Violation of this statute is a Class 2 misdemeanor.  

Furthermore, Jones is crafting legislation on the federal level to toughen campaign advertising laws, holding candidates accountable for knowingly spreading falsehoods in hopes of garnering votes.  

“I am not naive to the rigors of political campaigning; however, truth and integrity must never be compromised,” Jones concluded.   “Citizens should feel confident that the information that is being presented to them by a candidate is factual and if that candidate knowing distributes falsehoods that they will be held criminally accountable.”