It’s always been said that –when you make it to the top — you become a more appealing target. House speaker Tim Moore is apparently learning that the hard way from his local driveby media.
Cabarrus County state senator Fletcher Hartsell (R) is in some legal hot water over decisions made with his campaign finances. We learned about State Rep. Jason Saine (R-Lincoln), a Moore ally, who apparently paid for $19,000-plus worth of new clothes with campaign funds. The silence from the speaker’s office was deafening when compared to similar antics committed earlier by a Democrat legislator.
Well, the top man in the House is being questioned by the drivebys about vagueness in the official reports about his campaign committee’s spending. Moore has responded on camera rather aggressively — accusing the reporter in question of bias and “disreputable” behavior.
On October 22, Moore’s campaign received the findings of an audit conducted by the state board of elections for 2011-2014. The issues found ranged from receiving contributions from a lobbyist not registered with the state, to reportedly receiving contributions during the legislative session. According to the audit memo, all of the issues appear to have been satisfied to the auditors’ satisfaction.
The driveby interest in Moore’s report got us curious. So, we decided to take a look for ourselves. We did see a lot of the vagueness that we saw in Fletcher Hartsell’s reporting. But there were some other details that aroused our curiosity even further.
We found monthly “rent” payments of $1200 to “Moore Properties of Kings Mountain” at 305 E. Kings Street. Guess what else is at that address? The offices of Tim Moore, attorney at law. Paying rent to himself — out of campaign funds — for property he owns? (There are also $1200 payments for “Raleigh rent” to the same “Moore Properties.”)
As speaker, Moore is paid $38,151 per year, and gets a $1,413 monthly allowance in addition to that for things like rent and food while the legislature is in session. That’s a grand total of $55,107. (Not to mention his income from his law practice, and his pay from his other job as county attorney.) Soooooo — why the need to dig into campaign funds for rent?
It gets even more interesting. We found payments FROM THE CAMPAIGN TO MOORE, HIMSELF, reimbursing Moore for work on the campaign. There was an in-kind contribution of $992 on June 26, AND a check cut to Moore for $992. In December 2014, the campaign paid two checks to “Tim Moore Attorney at Law” — one for $1824 and one for $1440. Really? Paying yourself to campaign for yourself?
This is not just a Tim Moore thing. It appears to be a systematic problem throughout Jones Street. It’s about more than being nosy. Campaign funds are a great way to launder bribes. Run up a credit card debt — buying all kinds of meals and trips and luxuries — and pay it off with checks from lobbyists.
We’re not suggesting Moore is taking bribes. But — in the wake of the hubbub over the governor’s prison deal and the 2010 and 2012 GOP promises to change the culture in Raleigh — we suggest Moore set an example and bend over backwards to ensure his campaign finances have no problem passing the smell test.