On Monday morning, April 22, Democracy North Carolina’s executive director Bob Hall filed a formal request with the State Board of Elections to investigate possible illegal behavior related to campaign contributions by donors connected with the sweepstakes café industry. The call for investigation follows two research reports released by Democracy NC on March 18 and March 26. The request to look under the rug of this industry points to a number of potential violations, including:
● Possible illegal use of blank payee lines on the donation checks, similar in fashion to the donations that got Speaker Jim Black in trouble. Sweepstakes company owner Chase Burns, who was the biggest donor to NC legislators in the 2012 cycle, appears to have signed and dated dozens of checks, but the payee lines were filled out later and they were delivered, often by registered lobbyists, weeks after Burns dated them.
● Possible illegal role of lobbyists from prestigious law firms in receiving, transferring or delivering contributions to a gubernatorial candidate or to legislative candidates.
● Possible illegal use of business funds, not to mention illegal gambling proceeds, in making campaign donations.
According to an Associated Press story about these sweepstakes industry donations, a majority of the State Board of Elections members agree that an investigation is warranted and the staff has already begun a review of Burns’ contributions; follow-up action could be discussed at a board meeting on Tuesday, April 30.