N.C. Republican Party files complaint against Davie County Democratic Party

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Mark Wineka
The N.C. Republican Party has filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections against the Davie County Democratic Party and state Senate candidate Bill Burnette.
The state GOP charges that Burnette and his Burnette for State Senate Committee have maintained a Web site without disclosing that expenditure on campaign spending reports.
As for the Davie Democratic Party, the GOP says it purchased newspaper advertisements in the Davie Enterprise-Record even though it has been considered an inactive political committee with the N.C. Board of Elections since 1999.
“Bill Burnette and the Davie Democrat Party must obey the laws of campaign finance like everyone else,” Linda Daves, chairman of the N.C. Republican Party, said in a press release. “We already have enough Democrats in Raleigh who think the laws don’t apply to them. There is no need for any more.”
Clyde Scott, chairman of the Davie Democratic Party, said Wednesday evening that his party’s “inactive” status with the State Board of Elections was an oversight.
“We didn’t realize it,” he said. “… They had us listed as being inactive, and we didn’t have any knowledge that we were inactive.”
Scott said he has secured the necessary forms from the Board of Elections and is “in the process of taking care of it.”
Davie Democrats have been active “all these years,” Scott said.
Burnette, who is running against incumbent Republican state Sen. Andrew Brock of Davie County, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.
But Burnette earlier told the Winston-Salem Journal that his failure to list the Web site expense in his campaign spending report was a simple oversight. The cost of registering the Internet address was nominal, he said, guessing that it was about $20 he charged to a campaign credit card.
The GOP says Burnette has owned and maintained the Web site, www.billburnette .org, without disclosing that expense on either of his first- or second-quarter spending reports.
Brock holds the Senate District 34 seat, which takes in Rowan and Davie counties.
Brent Wilcox, assistant legal counsel for the state GOP, said in the complaint to the Board of Elections that the Davie Democrats had purchased ad space in the Enterprise-Record June 3 and June 7.
The ads encouraged recent high school graduates to vote.
Since Aug. 9, 1999, Wilcox said, the Davie Democratic Party has had an inactive status with the State Board of Elections.
N.C. general statutes say a political committee is not required to file reports with the State Board of Elections, “so long as the candidate or committee remains inactive,” Wilcox said.
Since 1999, the Davie Democratic Party has filed no reports with the state board or any documents requesting that it be placed on active status again to raise and spend money on behalf of political candidates, Wilcox said.
The party also has failed to file a certification letter informing the board of any intent to raise and spend less than the $3,000 threshold for political party committees, according to Wilcox.
“In summary,” the GOP complaint says, “the Davie County Democratic Party has filed no reports whatsoever since Aug. 9, 1999, although the party has spent money on print advertising in this election cycle as well as other cycles since 1999.”
The GOP called on the State Board of Elections to compel the Davie Democratic Party to fulfill its disclosure requirements and assess penalties.