Murdock Exceeded $4K Limit to Hartsell

State Senator Fletcher Hartsell accepted campaign contributions from billionaire David Murdock in excess of the $4,000 per election limit. In the 2008 election cycle Cabarrus Republican Hartsell received a $4,000 Murdock contribution 5/01/08, during the primary. Hartsell received another contribution of $4,000 from Murdock 10/17/08, during the general, apparently maxing out legal contributions.

However, Hartsell had also participated in a joint fundraising committee known as the Cabarrus-Rowan Leadership Celebration. The committee was shared by five candidates equally: Jeff Barnhart, Linda Johnson, Fred Steen, Bob Crumley and Fletcher Hartsell. Murdock contributed $4,000 to the joint fundraising committee 11/15/07. Of that $4,000 the amount of $800 is considered a contribution to Fletcher Hartsell by David Murdock during the primary.

The limits on state campaign contributions apply per person per candidate, not per committee. Campaign treasurers are required to track contributions, notify contributors when they have exceeded the $4,000 limit and return the excess contributions. Treasurer of individual campaigns are supposed to remain aware of contributions to joint fundraising committees by individuals that are shared by the candidate.

The Hartsell committee did not notify David Murdock that the $4,000 contribution 5/01/08 resulted in a total primary contribution of $4,800. The committee did not return the excess $800, nor did it notify Murdock or return the $800 when the 10/17/08 contribution of $4,000 was made. No correction was made in either the 2008 4th Quarter report or the 2009 semi-annual report.

In a week when a surreal State Board of Elections hearing, at great expense, has focused on debating whether or not contributions to party committees represent circumventions of the $4,000 per person per candidate limit it is bizarre that a well documented case of excess contributions remains unaddressed.


Most corrections are made in the following reporting cycle

I wonder why Fletcher Hartsell has failed to make this correction? The FEC, SBOE and local BOEs are all pretty lenient and give ample time to make corrections without taking much more action than sending a letter and maybe assessing a fine.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Reporting lapse

The campaign finance law is clear but committee treasurers have to be extra diligent about the existence of contributions through other committees. I think in this case the treasurer did not keep track of it by failing to fully communicate with the other treasurer and/or failure to examine filed reports for the joint fundraising committee. The treasurer would have recorded the disbursement from the committee but the treasurer should also have enquired about the amounts contributed. The limit is on the original amounts contributed by a person. The disbursed amount may actually be less when expenses are subtracted but it is the candidate's share of original contribution that is applied to the limit.

The system depends on having the information publicly available so that other people like you and me can look at it and flag anomolies.

TIme for a change in Cabarrus County!

During the presidential election last fall, the two Cabarrus County Republican members of the General Assembly, Rep. Jeff Barnhart and Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, were listed as two of the three board members of another 527, that ran commercials against Obama.
The other board member and primary funder of the group was Fred Eshelman, the CEO of Pharmaceutical Product Development, Inc. in Wilmington. Eshelman gave RightChange close to $3 million.
Both Rep. Jeff Barnhart and Sen. Fletcher Hartsell are up for re-election next year.