A N.C. Supreme Court justice seeking re-election hasn’t yet provided the occupations and employers for most of his donors, disclosures required for most contributions under North Carolina campaign finance
A review of campaign finance reports for statewide judicial races shows that N.C. Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby neglected to include the information for most of the 742 contributions he took in at the end of 2011.
Campaign finance rules in North Carolina require the disclosure of donors’ professions and employers for contributions of more than $50 as a way to let voters see if a particular industry or special interest supports one candidate over another.
Newby’s missing occupational information sets him apart from his opponent Sam Ervin IV, an appeals court judge, as well at six candidates vying for three bench seats on the N.C. Court of Appeals, the lower of the two appellate courts.
All the other judicial candidates provided that information for more than 90 percent of their donors.
In Newby’s case, the occupational and employer information was included for less than 15 percent of the 742 contributions listed in a March 7 judicialdisclosure form with the N.C State Board of Elections.
Newby also included information for less than 15 percent of the 335 contributions he took in that were over $50.
(Click here to see Newby’s contributors).
Newby did not respond immediately to requests for comment, but his campaign treasurer said the information would be provided in coming days.
His opponent, N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin IV, did include the occupational information for more than 90 percent of his 561 contributors, with half of the money coming in from attorneys working at various law firms around the state.
Ervin included the occupational information for all but 9 percent of the 360 individuals who contributed more than $50. (Click here to see Ervin’s contributions.)
Bob Hall, the head of the good government advocacy group Democracy NC, said Newby’s campaign should have disclosed the information from the beginning, and not doing so leaves the public at a disadvantage by not knowing what groups are influencing the candidate.
“Everybody else disclosed more than 90 percent out there,” said Hall, who reviewed campaign finance reports for this year’s eight statewide judicial campaigns. “It’s disturbing that a judicial candidate wouldn’t follow the rules, and the intent of the rules.”
The N.C. State Board of Elections has asked Newby’s campaign treasure, Raleigh financial advisor Kyle Tucker, to provide the information, and gave him a deadline of today to provide it.
Tucker said he plans on submitting it in coming days.
The campaign collected the employment information for all its donors, but didn’t include it in end of the year filing for 2011 as well as for the March campaign filing, Tucker said. He said he plans on providing that information to elections officials in coming days.
When asked why it wasn’t included in the March filing, Tucker responded that he was rushing to get the campaign report finished and didn’t have time to include the information about individual donors’ employers and professions.
“We had to get the report on the (March) deadline,” Tucker said. “We’re going to go back and add that information.”
Campaigns are required to put forth their “best effort” to give job titles for donors, and more leeway is given when it comes to providing occupational information because that information isn’t always at the fingertips of campaign staff, said Kim Strach, the head of the N.C. State Board of Election’s campaign finance division.
“If you have it, it should be on the report,” Strach said. Strach added that there are no civil fines for not having the information, and that many campaigns struggle with gathering the occupational and employer information.
They have until the end of the election cycle to provide it, but are not supposed to withhold disclosure if they have that information on hand, as appears to be the situation with Newby’s campaign.
Newby is seeking his second eight-year term on the N.C. Supreme Court. Judicial races are technically non-partisan in North Carolina, but the N.C. Supreme Court election is being closed watched in the state this year because it has the potential of deciding the court’s balance, with a split between more liberal and conservative justices. Newby is a registered Republican, while Ervin, his opponent, is a registered Democrat.
Both candidates qualify for public financing in their elections, which gives each candidate access to $240,000 donated by North Carolina taxpayers through a $3-check off on their income tax returns. To qualify, candidates for the Supreme Court have to agree not to raise any money over a $82,300 threshold, or take any money from political-action committees or out-of-state entities.
Newby has attracted attention this year for backing by the N.C. Judicial Coalition , a super PAC (political action committee) started by prominent N.C. Republicans that plans on spending money advocating for Newby prior to November’s election.
He also received an endorsement from the N.C. Chamber of Commerce earlier this week, the first time the business group has waded into a statewide judicial race.
(This post has been updated from the original to include the percentage of contributions of over $50 that each candidate received, which is the threshold that triggers the requirement of occupational information.)