It’s great to see the drive-bys finally get into the game — following our lead on this whole questionable-campaign-spending thing. The N&O’s editorial page even got all huffy and puffy and self-righteous on the issue:
[…]Apodaca of Hendersonville, who’s announced his retirement, got about $8,500 from his campaign during the first half of 2015, saying on reports that it was to “reimburse campaign expenses.” He didn’t list individual expenditures, though that’s required. He said it would be an accounting “nightmare.”
Talk about arrogance. The senator apparently believes he can ignore the rules he doesn’t like or obey them at his leisure. A similar attitude prevailed with Rep. Julia Howard of Mocksville, a stickler for holding those seeking unemployment compensation to strick accountability. But Howard had over $2,000 in unitemized credit care payments for this year on her report.
One especially cavalier to handling campaign funds shows up in the reports filed by state Rep. Kelly Hastings of Cleveland County. He’s using campaign money to supplement the 29-cents-per-mile he gets from the state for mileage, in order to bring his rate up to the federal government’s 57 cents-per-mile rate. He says he can’t operate a car on 29 cents a mile.
Hastings also isn’t happy with the state’s generous $104 per diem to cover legislators living expenses in addition to their salaries. (That’s over $3,000 a month.) So he’s using campaign money to boost his payments to the federal level of $163.
Other lawmakers also used campaign money for a variety of expenses, without itemizing them.
The Board of Elections needs to conduct an inquiry. And the lawmakers involved need to itemize expenses right now, not just whenever they get around to it. These people make the laws; they ought to follow them.
All of this got us thinking about two new questions:
- What in the hell do FEDERAL rates for mileage and per diem have to do with the campaign funds of STATE legislators? Kelly Hastings “reimbursed” himself from his campaign funds using both of those as justifications. He defended this move by suggesting that the state per diem and mileage standards were not enough to cover his expenses. First of all, state government pays the per diem for legislators while in-session. (That’s more than $3000 per month, by the way.) The feds don’t have anything to do with that arrangement. Instead of cutting himself a check from those funds collected from lobbyists and other assorted influence peddlers, Hastings should get together with his colleagues and adjust the per diem rate to something they feel is more suitable. Same with mileage.
- Is the speaker of the House BUYING a condo with his campaign funds? That’s what the facts appear to show us. Tim Moore formed Moore Properties of Kings Mountain, LLC in August 2012. In November 2013, Moore Properties acquired a Raleigh condo. In December 2013, Moore’s campaign started paying $1200 per month to Moore Properties for “Lease Raleigh Condo / Office.” (Purchase price was $150,000. Current property value is estimated at $175,931.) Go find one of those online mortgage payment calculators. I think you’ll find that $1200 per month is, um, more than enough to cover the monthly mortgage payment on that property. Why should we care about this? Well, consider the fact that Moore’s campaign fund is filled with dollars contributed by lobbyists and other folks with interests before the General Assembly. So, basically, it looks like the speaker is indirectly receiving a very nice gift from folks who want stuff out of the House — which HE runs. I hope there is an explanation for this arrangement that is a lot less troubling than THIS ONE looks.