It’s been months since the North Carolina Judicial Coalition sprang on to the election scene as an upstart in the otherwise sleepy world of judicial elections.
State and national media portrayed the super PAC—formed by former state Republican Party chair Tom Fetzer, conservative businessman Bob Luddy (founder of the private Thales Academy schools) and others to help finance the re-election of sitting Supreme Court Justice Paul Newby—as an example of the unlimited campaign spending that could be unleashed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and a particularly dangerous one, given that judges were involved.
Unlike Newby and his Democratic challenger Court of Appeals Judge Sam Ervin IV, who’ve both accepted public financing, PACs like the Judicial Coalition have no limits on how much they collect and spend, other than they can’t contribute directly to a candidate committee. They are otherwise free to support or oppose candidates as they see fit.
So what’s the Judicial Coalition been up to since June?
Tough to tell, since it has yet to tell the state board of elections how much money it’s raised and how it’s spent that money.
Back in June, Fetzer told the Charlotte Observer that the election was one of the most important in the state and that the committee would raise as much as it could to have as big an impact possible.
And though Luddy wouldn’t say then how much he’d be contributing, he noted that the committee had already received contributions from small and large donors. “Paul Newby is an outstanding judge, the type we need in North Carolina,” Luddy told the Observer. “We want to do everything possible to get him re-elected.”
But Luddy couldn’t talk yesterday when we called to ask how the fundraising was going. He said he’d have to call us back.
And a call to the committee’s treasurer, Susan Vick at Fetzer Strategic Partners, went straight to voicemail. We left a message.
The committee’s filings with the board of elections were likewise of little help because, well, there aren’t many.
State campaign finance laws require PACs like the Judicial Coalition to file a statement of organization within 10 days of organizing or of receiving or spending any money to support or oppose any candidate.
As confirmed by the board of election’s Sheryll Allen Harris yesterday, the Judicial Coalition was organized on April 26 of this year but didn’t file the required statement of organization until Sept. 28. And it has yet to file the organizational report detailing contributions received and expenditures made to support or oppose candidates, which should have been done at the same time.
Harris added that the board has notified the Judicial Coalition that its organizational report is late.