Election board clears McCrory, bond campaigns on complaints

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The State Board of Elections on Friday cleared Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign and a committee that urged voters to approve a $2 billion bond referendum in March of allegations they worked together unlawfully.

A board staff investigation of complaints filed in February by the head of a left-leaning advocacy group found no evidence the Connect NC Committee and McCrory’s campaign organization coordinated to seek approval of the bond question.

The complaints filed by Gerrick Brenner centered primarily on a Connect NC video in which McCrory appeared and went to bond supporters. The report dated Friday and signed by board Executive Director Kim Strach said evidence showed the video’s use complied with board guidance on campaign finance laws.

The report also cleared the campaign committee of Democratic state Rep. Ken Goodman, who appeared in another Connect NC video.

McCrory and Goodman were interviewed at a statewide bond kickoff in early January, the report said. The board’s previous guidance said interview footage could be used in bond committee communications as long as the candidate wasn’t provided a script or advised on how to speak.

According to the investigation, the person hired by Connect NC to conduct the on-camera interview told Strach no candidate was provided questions in advance, and that neither a candidate nor someone on a candidate’s behalf had input about the filming or footage for the advertisements.

McCrory supported the bond’s passage and was its top advocate. The complaint also questioned McCrory’s role in picking committee co-chairs and honorary leaders, but the report said the investigation found “no evidence that Gov. McCrory or The Pat McCrory Committee controlled” the bond committee operations.

Brenner is executive director of Progress North Carolina Action. He and a spokesman for the group didn’t respond to emails late Friday seeking comment.

Ricky Diaz, a spokesman for McCrory’s campaign, referred to Brenner’s accusations as “bogus ethics complaints” and used Friday’s report as an opportunity to criticize Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper. McCrory and Cooper are engaged in a hard-fought gubernatorial race. Cooper supported the bond’s passage but asked that his picture or endorsement not be used in paid Connect NC advertisements.

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