By Jim Morrill, The Charlotte Observer
Democratic Rep. Rodney Moore failed to report 17 campaign contributions from political action committees, according to state election officials who’ve taken the unusual step of seeking his bank records.
Moore, a House Democratic leader, did not list $9,450 in contributions that PACs reported giving him since 2013, according to state records.
The figures come from a public records request with the N.C. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement and an Observer analysis that checked dozens of PAC reports against Moore’s.
Moore said he fixed other discrepancies found by elections officials. But he acknowledged some contributions could be unaccounted for.
“That seems a little far-fetched to me,” Moore said Wednesday. “I guess I’m just a bad bookkeeper or something… I’m working with my treasurer to take care of it. The best thing I can do is try to work … to clear it up.”
At least two PAC donations Moore did not report were cashed, according to spokesmen for the PACs. Political action committees represent employees of a company or organization.
Sheryll Harris, the board’s compliance manager, told Moore in an email posted Tuesday that while some records had been provided, “there are a number of issues still outstanding.” She asked him to authorize release of bank statements. The state board can subpoena records but because of an ongoing lawsuit, no board is currently in place.
Though elections officials routinely audit campaign reports, it’s rare to seek bank records.
“It’s quite unusual,” said Bob Hall, executive director Democracy North Carolina, a watchdog group. “That means that it’s a serious investigation. That means it’s not a simple exchange of information back and forth.”
In June the board notified Moore of an unreported 2016 contribution of $1,000 from the N.C. Home Builders PAC. Moore later included the donation in an amended report. In March the board asked him about an unspecified contribution from the N.C. Farm Bureau PAC. That appears to refer to a $500 check the PAC reported in October 2016.
Reports show 17 contributions to Moore, a House Democrat whip and four-term lawmaker, that appear on PAC reports but not on Moore’s own reports:
▪ In 2013, Moore failed to report PAC contributions from Bayada Home Health Care ($250) and the N.C. Self Storage PAC ($250).
▪ Unreported in 2014 were PAC contributions from the N.C. Association of Electric Coops Rural Electric Action ($500 and $300), Carolinas HealthCare System ($2,000), N.C. Beer and Wine Wholesalers ($500), N.C. Home Builders ($500) and AT&T ($250).
▪ In 2015, CSX Transportation PAC reported a $250 contribution.
▪ In 2016, PACs for Charter Communications N.C. ($250), State Farm Insurance ($1,000), the N.C. Farm Bureau ($500) and the N.C. State Optometric Society ($1,000), Coca Cola Bottling ($250) and the Credit Unions ($250) reported contributions.
▪ This year PACs for Bayada ($400) and Partners for Educational Freedom ($1,000) reported donations.
Moore said some checks may have been lost. Spokesmen for the Farm Bureau and Coca Cola confirmed that their checks were cashed.
Under state law, individuals can face felony charges for campaign finance violations, including signing off on a finance report that contains information the person knows isn’t true. This year former Republican state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell of Concord was sentenced to up to 18 months probation after admitting to improperly spending and reporting campaign finances.
Moore, a small business consultant, represents District 99, a majority Democratic, majority African-American district in northeast Mecklenburg County. He was first elected in 2010 when he beat former Democratic Rep. Nick Mackey in a primary and went on to easily defeat a Republican challenger. Since then he’s been unopposed in three primary and general elections.
Over the years Moore has filed financial reports late, incomplete or with inconsistencies.
For example, a report filed in January showed him with $51,444 in cash on hand at the end of December. An amended report filed in August showed $57,633 on hand at the end of last year. He was assessed five late-filing penalties in the last two years.
Most of Moore’s reported donations last year came from PACs, not individuals.
He acknowledges being “a little lax” in reporting.
“A lot of times I’m late on them because, hey man, sometimes I miss the deadlines and sometimes it’s hard for me to track some records down,” he said. “I have someone else to handle it for me now and we’re trying to rectify it.”