The Republicans vying for the secretary of state's office is sounding the alarm on the campaign trail: George Soros is trying to buy the office.
Ed Goodwin, a Chowan County commissioner, recently told a voter forum that Soros, a billionaire financier who donates prolifically to liberal causes, is trying to elect Democrats to the post so he can exert control on the state's elections. "We have to be very careful of that," he said.
His rival in the July runoff election, Kenn Gardner, chimed in: "I have no doubts that he had money that goes to Elaine Marshall," the incumbent Democrat.
In PolitiFact parlance, the candidates would get a Pants On Fire ruling from the Truth-O-Meter.
First of all, in North Carolina, the secretary of state doesn't control elections -- it's handled by the State Board of Elections, an agency whose leader is appointed by the governor. (Goodwin acknowledged this point -- but still suggested Soros is playing a role, somehow.) The secretary of state does certify elections but the elections board finalizes the results in the canvassing process. (In other states this is all hangled by the secretary of state.)
The candidates' remarks invoked Soros' ties to the Secretary of State Project, which formed with the idea that it would elect Democrats and keep Republicans from "manipulating" election results, according to news reports. But the problem is the group now appears defunct.
And there's no evidence Soros has donated directly to Marshall. According to the state's campaign finance database, Soros has given to only one statewide candidate in North Carolina: J.B. Buxton, a superintendent candidate in 2004, received $2,000.
Marshall spokesman Thomas Millis replied to the GOP accusations: "That would be laughable except that (they) could be secretary of state in North Carolina. That's scary that someone that divorced from reality could possibly run a department of that size."