Under the Dome

Does Gov. Perdue still count as a candidate? State elections agency weighs the question

Bob Hall at Democracy North Carolina is asking the N.C. State Board of Elections for a legal clarification about the Americans for Prosperity Foundation TV and radio advertisements on the state budget.

Hall's liberal group is no fan of the conservative AFP. But he raises an interesting question about who constitutes a candidate under state election laws. If a candidate is mentioned, the ads would qualify as electioneering communications and the sponsor would have to meet disclosure requirements for expenditures and donors. AFP hasn't filed disclosure forms because its 501c3 nonprofit affiliate, Americans for Prosperity Foundation, paid for the "educational" advertisement.

The question revolves around whether Gov. Bev Perdue -- who is mentioned and in the advertisement -- still qualifies as a candidate even though she is not seeking re-election. Hall cites N.C. General Statute 163.278.6(4) to suggest that Perdue is still a candidate because she continues to repay loans and make expenditures from a previous election. He also said the campaign committee could be used for a future election.

Hall said he isn't accusing AFP of wrongdoing but just wants clarification about the law. Dallas Woodhouse, the organization's state director, said he looked at that issue and only inserted Perdue's name into the ad script after she decided not to run. "We would not have included her name in the ad if it weren't an issue," he said.

He said Hall's question is not innocent but part of his larger vendetta against private money in campaigns.

At first glance, Gary Bartlett, the executive director of the elections agency, said Hall's suggestion isn't likely to succeed because Perdue didn't file a statement of candidacy. But it's a confusing part of the law. He plans to issue a more formal decision next week.

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