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NC Voters Still in the Dark About 2021 Investigation into Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s Campaign Finance Irregularities

Source: News & Observer

It’s been nearly three years since government accountability advocate Bob Hall filed a complaint with the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) over several possible irregularities in Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson’s campaign finance reports and the public has still yet to receive any answers.

Issues with Robinson’s reports first garnered attention during the 2020 campaign. In response to those issues, Robinson told WRAL he was hiring a new campaign finance manager and that any problems would be fixed “quick, fast and in a hurry.”

Soon after he was elected, Robinson’s campaign told The News & Observer that they were aware of “clerical errors related to our campaign finance reports,” were transitioning to new staff, and were “in the process of working with the NCSBE to fix any and all mistakes, and to amend our reports to be accurate and up to date.”

That was February 2021. It is now almost February 2024 and as Hall told The N&O last week, the public remains in the dark about the NCSBE investigation that they opened after receiving his complaint.

Hall even sent Robinson and his team a letter earlier this month asking them to let the public know whether the campaign finance report issues were still being investigated or if they had been addressed. Hall even tried to speak to Robinson in person following last week’s Council of State meeting.

According to Hall, just some of the issues he had identified included possibly “illegal cash donations; contributions in illegal amounts and from illegal donors; illegal cash withdrawals; illegal credit card charges and illegal expenses; (and) illegal disclosure of financial transactions.”

Though state elections officials are not legally allowed to comment on any investigations into campaign finance reports, Hall believes that shouldn’t prevent Robinson from explaining to the public what steps he has taken regarding addressing the report issues.

“The public shouldn’t be kept in the dark,” Hall wrote in his letter to Robinson. “Rather than be surprised, voters need to hear from you now — before the primary, not after the November election. For accountability and transparency, please give people a truthful explanation.”

Robinson’s gubernatorial campaign told The N&O in a statement that they had addressed all of the NCSBE’s questions about the reports, and that the board said they’re short-staffed.

“We responded well over a year ago to the [NCSBE] with all updated activity, addressing every question, with any requested documentation,” campaign spokesperson Mike Lonergan told The N&O. “We’ve followed up with them a couple of times to see where we are and they have responded that they are working through it. They indicated that they have been shorthanded on staff.”

It remains to be seen if the outcome of the investigation will be known before November’s election, since it appears that there is little chance the investigation will be complete by the time early voting starts for North Carolina’s primary election on Feb. 15 or by the March 5 primary date.

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