We wrote earlier about some really big payments by members of the North Carolina Senate to a Louisiana advertising firm. Eight members of the Senate were recording mid-to-high six figure payments to Innovative Advertising. One member reported spending more than $500,000 with the firm, while another reported spending nearly $1 million. Seems like A LOT for someone running in ONE state Senate district.
After a little digging, we found that the North Carolina State Board of Elections raised some questions in 2014 about The North Carolina Judicial Coalition’s 2012 dealings with Innovative Advertising.
Here’s some background. According to the state elections board, the NCJC was organized in 2012 by Susan Fetzer Vick and Raleigh attorney Roger Knight. The address given on the Statement of Organization for Ms. Vick is the same as that of Fetzer Strategic Partners. (In 2015, Ms. Vick’s name was removed from the statement of organization and replaced with that of Kristen Snyder.) The group was active in promoting the Supreme Court candidacies of Paul Newby and Mark Martin.
In October 2014, Knight wrote to the state elections board’s Joe Patton:
This firm represents the North Carolina Judicial Coalition (“NCJC”) and they have asked me to write to you to give you an update on the status of the NCJC’s response to your inquiries regarding a April 2013 payment made by the NCJC to Innovative Advertising. Please understand that we are trying to get supporting documentation from Innovative Advertising, a process that has gone on for several months.
We think we know the basis for the payment but cannot be certain until we receive some of the records from them. Innovative Advertising has said that the records are “in storage” and basically told us that because of the coming November 4 election they cannot get to them until the election has passed. I am sure you understand the nature of pre-election workload.
Please be assured that we will continue to push for the records and will supply the staff of the State Board of Elections with the proper documentation as soon as we can get it. If we are unable to get the records we will do our best to reconstruct the record regarding the payment as best we can.
If you have any questions or wish to discuss this matter, please let me know.
What were the details about the April 2013 payment? According to records the NCJC filed with the state board, a check was sent to Innovative Advertising on April 12, 2013 for $103,000. Knight corresponded with Patton again in November 2014:
As you will recall, this firm represents the North Carolina Judicial Coalition (“NCJC”) and I am writing to respond to your inquiry regarding the a April 2013 payment made by the NCJC to Innovative Advertising (“Innovative”). The explanation of the payment is as follows:
After the end of the campaign cycle, it was determined that NCJC owed Innovative additional funds to reconcile the media accounts and to cover media commissions. The media placement pricing was very volatile at the end of the 2012 cycle, based largely on the dynamics of the presidential race and the impact of last minute spending in the Governor’s race.
NCJC owed more for some of the media that was placed on its behalf due to price fluctuations and time slot variations near the end of the election cycle.
The April payment was for an invoice from Innovative that reconciled the amount owed. Simply put, Innovative sent an invoice that said a review of commission accounts showed NCJC owed more money than was paid at the end of the 2012 campaign. NCJC paid the invoice in April, 2013.
I hope this is sufficient to answer your question about the payment. If you have any additional questions or wish to discuss this matter, please let me know.
We could find no further documentation on this matter. (Perhaps it disappeared down the same black hole that swallowed up A.J. Daoud’s fine. )