Complaint alleges campaign law violations

Published 7:58 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The North Carolina State Board of Elections has been asked to investigate possible violations of state election laws by a Republican candidate for the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

On Wednesday, Republican Gary Brinn, vice chairman of the Board of Commissioners and who is seeking re-election to the board this year, filed a complaint alleging that Derik Davis violated campaign-finance laws. Brinn’s complaint alleges Davis’ campaign did not report expenditures related to paying high school students to distribute campaign literature. Brinn’s complaint contends state law requires political campaigns to report such payments in campaign disclosure reports and identify those receiving such payments.

“We have information that verifies everything,” Brinn said Wednesday afternoon, adding that he would cooperate with an investigation, if one were initiated.

“The complaint is that he stated in (the Washington Daily News) and also the Greenville newspaper that he paid those high school students to hand out literature for his campaign and he paid them out of his campaign,” Brinn said. “If he did, there is no record of it nowhere. Even if you pay them in cash, you have to report it. It has to be on your campaign finance forms.”

Davis said his campaign has done nothing wrong and is willing to cooperate with an investigation,

“That everything that has been reported has been accurate. The further expenditures will be reported on the report in July, as they should be, and that is proper. Those activities took place after the cutoff for the first report. Those monies were expended after that cutoff time for that first report,” Davis said Wednesday.

Davis continued, “It is unfortunate now, for the third time, a candidate has found it necessary — in Mr. Brinn — to go negative. I will not go negative. … I am proud of my campaign and will continue to move forward.”

The complaint asks for an investigation to reconcile differences between published reports of Davis’ campaign paying high school students to “canvass for him and filed campaign reports that neglect to list these payments.”

The complaint was forwarded to the State Board of Elections, where it was received at 12:51 p.m. Sheryll Harris, a compliance specialist, will handle the complaint, according to Jackie Hyland, public information officer with the state board.

“The county boards of elections are not responsible for conducting investigations. So, our office will forward that to the State Board of Elections, and they will decide what action needs to be taken, if any,” Kellie Harris Hopkins, Beaufort County’s elections director, on Wednesday afternoon. Hopkins, a notary public, notarized Brinn’s complaint. She also compiled information (including newspaper articles) to accompany the complaint before sending to the State Board of Elections.

Brinn and Davis are among the four Republican nominees seeking seats on the Board of Commissioners. This election cycle, four of the seven seats on the board are available. Democrats Jerry Langley, Robert Belcher and Greg Satterthwaite are seeking seats on the board.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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