Mike Causey, who wants to unseat Wayne Goodwin and become state Insurance Commissioner, has responded to Goodwin’s allegations of campaign violations.
Goodwin previously informed Gary Bartlett, state elections chief, of potential violations – a lack of electronic filing of campaign reports, a series of ads placed in a magazine to which Causey is a contributor, and a “reverse raffle” that may have skirted state law governing nonprofits – and the Democratic candidate has added details to bolster his claims.
Causey admits some mistakes but says they were not intentional and denies some of Goodwin's claims outright.
Candidates receiving less than $5,000 are allowed to file reports by paper, and Causey previously used that method. He acknowledges his campaign briefly lapsed when it crossed that threshold, but he insists all reports were filed on time and said in a letter to Bartlett that the problem was quickly addressed when brought to his attention by a state auditor.
The advertising controversy centers on ads placed in Collision Expert, a Charlotte-based trade publication for auto body shops, for which Causey has written and edited articles since 2001.
Causey said in his letter to Bartlett that no laws were knowingly violated and that all expenditures have been properly reported. Causey does, however, concede that he failed to report a $1,020 in-kind contribution, which was the cash value of ads placed on his behalf by Collision Expert owner John Ogden.
Ogden has run the publication since 1989, and he and his wife are the only employees. Ogden said in an interview the problem was the result of an oversight on his part – he copied and pasted the ads from another source as a favor to a friend, he said, and was unaware of campaign law requiring a “paid for by” disclaimer on political ads or the need to provide the campaign with a receipt.
Ogden said the publication is distributed at no cost to subscribers and gives body shop owners news about the industry, business advice and motivational articles. He said his corporation that operates the publication is not capable of funneling cash to a campaign – as Goodwin questions in his complaint – even if so inclined.
“We weren’t even able to draw a salary last year,” Ogden said. “We don’t have funds to funnel anywhere. ... I don't know Wayne Goodwin from Adam. He never called me, but he could certainly advertise in my paper. We'd love to have his ads.”
A question that remains unsettled is whether a raffle was held on Causey’s behalf. That would likely violate state law, which prohibits political campaigns from hosting raffles under most circumstances.
Goodwin questions whether a raffle was held on Causey's behalf at a restaurant in Cary on June 23. Causey denies the event was held, but Goodwin submitted to Bartlett a few Facebook posts by apparent organizers touting the event and tickets as well as email invitations.
Bartlett said in an interview Wednesday that staff and counsel has reviewed all of the complaints but has not been able to meet and discuss whether disciplinary action will be necessary.
“We will be establishing that very shortly, but there’s no way to speculate what will happen until we have a chance to evaluate the claims,” Bartlett said.