by Jordan Green

SBOE inquires into NC Senate minority leader’s campaign finances

The NC Board of Elections is asking the campaign committee of NC Senate Republican Leader Phil Berger, who represents Rockingham County and parts of Guilford County, to explain more than a dozen contributions from political action committees that appear to have been made during legislative sessions. The letter from state education and disclosure specialist Jane E. Steffens lists contributions from Bank of America Corp. PAC, Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, Blue Cross & Blue Shield of NC Employees PAC and several other committees that appear to have been received during the 2005, 2007 and 2009 sessions, which would violate a prohibition in state law.

“My treasurer filled out the reports based on the day [the contributions] were deposited,” Berger said on Monday.

“I have not received any contributions from political action committees while the legislature was in session. We will correct that mistake.”

“We generally, when we solicit contributions, have a card for people to fill out,” Berger said. “We generally utilize that information. I’ll get a call [from my treasurer] and he’ll say, ‘I need something from this person and that person,’ and we’ll make some phone calls.”

The letter also states that Berger’s reports lack occupation and employer information, Other discrepancies include a $1,000 contribution this year from the NC Association of Nurse Anesthetists was not reported within 48 hours, and that a handful of political action committees reported making contributions to the Berger campaign, which were not reported by the senator’s campaign committee.

“There are a number of explanations for this, i.e. the contribution check may never have been received or the check may have been received but returned to the PAC before deposit,” the letter states. “Please assist us in tracking these contributions, so that we may then contact the contributing committee.”

Berger added that he believes the State Board of Elections is conducting a wide-ranging audit of elected officials’ campaign finance reports, and other lawmakers’ reports may have more extensive gaps and errors. — JG

Controversial benches to be reinstalled along greenway

Thecity of Greensboro plans to reinstall a set of public art benches alongthe Downtown Greenway in the Warnersville neighborhood that wereremoved in October at the instigation of residents, who complained thatthey enabled prostitution, and public drinking and drug use. Thebenches became an issue during the recent Greensboro City Councilcampaign. Removal of the benches was championed by Ben Holder, anunsuccessful candidate for city council. Staff removed the benchesafter a meeting with resi dents and Guilford County Commission ChairmanSkip Alston and without District 1 Councilwoman Dianne Bellamy-Small’s approval. City Manager Rashad Young reportedin a Nov. 20 memo to council that staff recently met with residents andidentified a location with additional buffer between the residents andthe benches. The city plans to reinstall the benches in early December.— JG

Coble and KSM

Rep. Howard Coble, the Republican who represents North Carolina’s 6 th Congressional District, took President Obama totask for his administration’s decision to try five men accused in theSept. 11, 2001 attacks in federal court, blocks away from the site ofthe World Trade Center. “The costs will be overwhelming, the risk notinsignificant and the defendants will enthusiastically embrace thecircus atmosphere to espouse their radical views,” said Coble, who is amember of the House Judiciary Committee. “I hope it’s not too late torescind this flawed decision and conduct the prosecutions beforemilitary tribunals. Of the several blunders committed [by the Obamaadministration], this one must be awarded the ultimate blue ribbon.”One of the defendants, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, attended NC A&T University in the 1980s. — JG