The extra eyeballs at the N.C. State Board of Elections are catching errors on some very recognizable campaign finance reports.
Over the past several months, elections officials have asked for missing information from the campaigns of Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, Secretary of State Elaine Marshall, Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger, former Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand, State Auditor Beth Wood -- the Auditor is being audited -- and others to provide missing information about contributions or contributors. In Marshall's case, the elections board's letter asked her campaign to file an overdue report. All are Democrats, except for Berger.
Elections officials routinely send out such letters after they have scrutinized campaign finance reports, but two years ago the board received funding to hire seven additional auditors and compliance specialists. That gave them the ability to more thoroughly and more quickly find problems. Money for the extra staff followed highly publicized corruption cases that involved campaign money.
The recent letters highlighted bookkeeping problems, such as misdated contribution checks, contributions that weren't recorded, either by the donor or the candidate. Typically such inquiries are resolved by the campaign filing a corrected report and providing the details. Dalton's campaign, for example, received a letter in February and subsequently corrected his report.
"This is not any kind of gotcha," said Gary Bartlett, the board's executive director. "This is to get the statements right and ensure the accuracy of reports. By going through this, we’re hoping people will have a better understanding of doing their reports and mistakes will be minimized."