Defending Democracy, News

Veteran watchdog files campaign finance complaint against House Appropriations senior chair

Rep. Linda Johnson (R-Cabarrus)

Citizen watchdog Bob Hall filed a complaint today at the State Board of Elections claiming the senior chair of the NC House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Linda Johnson (R-Cabarrus), has not disclosed receiving more than $20,000 of contributions that political action committees (PACs) report sending to her campaign since 2016.

Hall sent out a news release today with a copy of the complaint, which details $20,900 given by 15 PACs to her campaign that were neither disclosed nor refunded. It’s against state law for a legislator not to properly deposit and report campaign contributions or to use the money for personal purposes.

“This is a large amount of missing money, extending over a three-year period,” said Hall. “There are also missing and misallocated funds donated to another campaign committee that Rep. Johnson is treasurer for, plus numerous other problems that violate the public disclosure laws for election activity.”

The complaint points out that Rep. Johnson has not filed a required report for her campaign that was due last July, nor has she paid a $500 fine levied against her campaign in November by the State Board of Elections.

Rep. Johnson serves as treasurer for her own campaign committee and for the Committee to Elect Republican Women. Required campaign reports for both committees were filed late in 2018. The problems have been so severe that the State Board has sent a “notice of termination” to each committee at different times, which “renders the committee ineligible to receive or make contributions” if issues are not promptly addressed, according to Hall.

The Committee to Elect Republican Women eventually responded and paid a $500 fine to keep its committee functioning, but the Committee to Elect Linda P. Johnson has not yet responded to the State Board’s warning notice.

Hall’s complaint also says that a $500 check from the AT&T PAC meant for the Republican Women’s committee was apparently deposited in Johnson’s committee bank account, and at least $2,500 that other PACs have sent the Republican Women since 2016 are “missing” or unreported, Hall’s news release states.

The complaint calls for the State Board of Elections to conduct a thorough investigation of the two committees. It says the fact that Rep. Johnson is not seeking reelection “brings additional urgency for pursuing appropriate fact-finding and accountability.”

Halls said he left messages at Rep. Johnson’s home and office to hear her explanation of problems going back to 2016, but has not received a response.

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