Published 12:00 am Thursday, May 3, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Dr. Bruce Peller, a Democratic candidate for the U.S. House 5th District, said he has fired his campaign manager and filed a criminal complaint over mishandling of political funds.
Peller, a dentist, was in Salisbury on Wednesday night at The Palms Cafe. Part of Rowan County is now in the 5th District.
Peller is running against Elisabeth Motsinger in the May 8 primary for the chance to take on incumbent Republican Virgina Foxx this fall.
Winston-Salem police are investigating Chris Church, according to the Winston-Salem Journal. Peller hired the political consultant in March to manage his campaign.
Peller said Church took his campaign checkbook, made purchases but didn’t provide invoices and used Peller’s campaign money to contribute to a political consulting firm co-founded by Church.
Peller said Church also used his campaign funds to contribute to the newly formed Forsyth Leadership Political Action Committee, which the N.C. State Board of Elections is investigating for possible registration irregularities.
Church could not be reached for comment.
Peller, who’s never run for office before, said he’s also been in touch with the FBI regarding mismanagement of his campaign.
Motsinger’s campaign recently complained to the Federal Elections Commission that Peller had not filed the required financial documents to reveal who is funding his campaign.
Peller said he missed filing deadlines because of Church.
“The person in my campaign who was paid to be responsible for that gave us bad advice,” Peller said.
Once he realized the campaign had missed deadlines, “we filed as quickly as we could,” he said.
Peller has self-financed his run for office, giving his campaign more than $23,000 because he said he did not want to ask voters for money during a recession.
“My wife and I decided I would take the money from my savings account,” Peller said. “I thought it was the right thing to do.”
Peller said the Motsinger campaign’s portrayal of him as lacking grassroots support is a distortion.
“Look at the yard signs in Winston-Salem to get a true sense of the number of people who support me,” he said.
About 10 people met with Peller at The Palms. He said their concerns are similar to those he hears throughout the 5th District, where the No. 1 issue for Democrats is how to beat Foxx. “People are just tired of Virginia Foxx voting against the interests of her own constituents,” he said.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.