NC Senate Dist 29 GOP race: campaign signs and election complaints




Hotly contested races almost always come down to this type of stuff in the end.

State senator Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph), that body’s Majority Whip, is running for reelection in a newly configured district against two GOP opponents from Moore County.  (Tillman’s district was combined with that of fellow GOP incumbent Harris Blake, who is not seeking reelection.)

John Marcum, a Pinehurst Republican challenging Tillman in the GOP primary, has fired off complaints to the state board of elections and the county boards within the district about some alleged practices of the Tillman campaign:

[…] The specific concerns are as follows:

  1. Tillman’s road signs were distributed along state highways in Randolph and Moore Counties about a week before they were allowed. After our complaint to the County BOE, he was asked to remove them and did so. Of course, they were put back up the next week, and in this process he gained an illegal week of advertising against his opponents during this short campaign.
  2. Tillman has also distributed thousands of campaign flyers bearing a “paid for” attribution that is a gross violation of campaign law. The attributions almost require a magnifying glass to read. The Director of Moore County BOE has forwarded a copy of this flyer to you. There are thousands of copies still on tables at political offices and other locations. Please require that these be destroyed with appropriate censure and penalty to Tillman’s campaign.
  3. A large Tillman billboard has been erected on Hwy 211 between Seven Lakes and Pinehurst. This billboard does not have an explicit campaign attribution to Tillman, but has an apparent list of corporate donors in small print at the bottom. There is no report in the campaign records of a PAC bearing these names. Please investigate the source and proper attribution, and have the billboard removed if appropriate.
  4. Finally, Tillman’s campaign has affixed numerous road signs to the metal supports of county and state highway signs. These campaign signs appear to be either fastened directly to the metal stakes or lean against them standing on a small wooden stake. Please review the applicable law and determine whether these signs should be removed.

Because of this poor start to his current campaign, we have examined your records of his previous campaigns and have found previous violations involving fines. One involved a failure to timely disclose, just prior to the election, six separate corporate donations of one thousand dollars each. It has also been reported to us that there have been numerous examples of violations not rising to the level of a fine or formal complaint such as number one above. I understand that some are simply called in at county level and if corrected are not reported to the state BOE. These are not readily accessible in your web site reports. Accordingly, I would appreciate your reviewing all state BOE records, together with the records of the Randolph and Montgomery County BOEs, and send us the results of all such incidents as soon as possible.

I’m sure you will agree that a long term senator with numerous campaigns under his belt should be knowledgeable of campaign law requirements.  Given that background and his record of violations, it seems that Tillman has little respect for the BOE requirements—as noted in your records, he blamed one violation on his treasurer, saying she “dropped the ball.” It is difficult enough for newcomers to compete with long term incumbents and their large funding, without such violations also being used to their advantage, campaign after campaign. You may wish to consider whether as a serial violator, additional sanctions should be applied to Senator Tillman. […]