One of the more interesting developments in state political world last week was the news that right-wing groups behind the big media buy that attacked Governor Perdue and misleadingly defended the reactionary, teacher-slashing 2012 state budget need to disclose who paid for the ad campaign. Good government watchdog Bob Hall of Democracy NC has called the matter to the attention of the State Board of Elections. A review of the law makes it clear that Hall is right.
The dispute centers on whether Governor Perdue — a target of the ads — meets the definition of “candidate.” Here is the relevant statutory provision:
“(4) The term “candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163?278.6(18), has taken positive action for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination or election to public office. Examples of positive action include:
a. Filing a notice of candidacy or a petition requesting to be a candidate,
b. Being certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy,
c. Otherwise qualifying as a candidate in a manner authorized by law,
d. Making a public announcement of a definite intent to run for public office in a particular election, or
e. Receiving funds or making payments or giving the consent for anyone else to receive funds or transfer anything of value for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination or election to office. Transferring anything of value includes incurring an obligation to transfer anything of value.
Status as a candidate for the purpose of this Article continues if the individual is receiving contributions to repay loans or cover a deficit or is making expenditures to satisfy obligations from an election already held. Special definitions of “candidate” and “candidate campaign committee” that apply only in Part 1A of this Article are set forth in G.S. 163?278.38Z.
Since Governor Perdue is still receiving money and paying off old debt, she clearly meets the definition. So what does this mean? It means that the recent AFP/Civitas attacks clearly amount to “electioneering communications.” Here’s the definition of those:
”8j) The term “electioneering communication” means any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication, or mass mailing, or telephone bank that has all the following characteristics:
a. Refers to a clearly identified candidate for elected office.
b. Is aired or transmitted within 60 days of the time set for absentee voting to begin pursuant to G.S. 163?227.2 in an election for that office.
c. May be received by either:
1. 50,000 or more individuals in the State in an election for statewide office or 7,500 or more individuals in any other election if in the form of broadcast, cable, or satellite communication.
2. 20,000 or more households, cumulative per election, in a statewide election or 2,500 households, cumulative per election, in any other election if in the form of mass mailing or telephone bank.”
So what does this mean? All it means is that AFP and Civitas have to tell us who forked over the half-million bucks to run the ads. You’d think it wouldn’t be that big of a deal — I mean we probably have a pretty good idea, right? But, of course, look for the AFP/Civitasers to stonewall the whole thing as long as possible. God forbid that they publicly acknowledge what we’ve all long known about who foots the bill in the right-wing-overse.