Under the Dome

Dalton files complaint against McCrory; Republican rejects 'desperate' charges

Democrat Walter Dalton's campaign filed a campaign finance complaint Wednesday alleging Pat McCrory didn't properly pay for campaign flights and whether it amounted to an illegal corporate contribution.

The Republican's campaign outright rejected the claims and provided documentation that it believes supports its claim. State elections chief Gary Bartlett said his agency received the complaint but the agency doesn't have time to investigate until after next week's election.

The Dalton complaint focuses on private flights for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to North Carolina for separate McCrory campaign events. 

Haley came to Fayetteville on Sept. 19 for a McCrory rally. Campaign finance reports released earlier this week show Ralph and Linda Huff of Fayetteville gave McCrory's campaign $2,664 for the flight. 

Federal avaition records don't list the Huffs as owners of the plane -- raising questions about who owned the plane. But McCrory spokesman Brian Nick said Huff is part owner of the plane with an associate as part of a private company. Huff gave $1,500 of the flight until he hit his maximum contribution limit and had his wife donate the remainder of the cost, according to a document provided by the McCrory campaign.

"The flights Dalton questions were handled in accordance with campaign finance law by the McCrory campaign and this so called complaint is completely frivolous," Nick said. "Walter Dalton should be ashamed of himself for continuing his desperate and negative campaign until the very end."

Jerry Meek, the Dalton campaign's attorney, said in the complaint that a private company cannot pay for the flight and the campaign must directly reimburse the company.

As for the Walker flight, it appears nowhere on McCrory's campaign expenses even though the Republican visited North Carolina on Sept. 25.

Nick said Walker visited for Republican Governors Association events in the state and not explicitly for McCrory, so the campaign is not responsible for the cost of his flights. Meek said the RGA event is a pretext and if the group brought Walker to the state to McCrory's benefit, it must report an in-kind contribution.

McCrory did report flights for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell -- two other Republicans who came to help. One Christie flight cost $12,600. To fly McDonnell one state south cost $4,000.

McCrory also flew to out-of-state fundraisers in Pennsylvania and Virginia, in addition to a handful of campaign stops across North Carolina.

Campaign flights are a sticky subject after Gov. Bev Perdue came under fire for not disclosing 30 flights in her campaign, spurring state and federal criminal investigations. One of her top donors was indicted on felony charges of obstructing justice and causing the filing of false campaign reports. His legal case is still pending.

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