And now, some local news….AP reports that the NC Election Board has just fined the state GOP $200K for an illegal ad on behalf of gubanatorial candidate Patrick Ballantine. They GOP said the inappropriate ad was “unintentional.” Again, whatever. Sitting governor Mike Easley is running with an easy lead in this race 54-39 in the 9/6 SurveyUSA poll.
The elections panel voted 3-2 for the fine, with the board’s three Democrats voting in the majority.
The board unaninmously determined last week that the association violated state election law by using corporate contributions to pay for the ad for Ballantine, a former state senator running against Democratic incumbent Mike Easley.
The law says such contributions can be used to pay for ads that advocate issues, but not for ads that endorse candidates.
“I think there is a long-standing history in North Carolina that corporate contributions have no place in express advocacy,” said Scott Falmlen, executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party.
Falmlen said the penalty, based on how much the association said it cost to produce and air the ad, apparently is the largest fine of its kind in state history.
Association executive director Edward Tobin said the group likely would appeal. He said the ruling “was a political decision made by three Democratic appointees of Gov. Mike Easley. It’s an unprecedented response to what a board member termed an unintentional infraction.”