Hise being investigated
Mitchell County’s representative in the North Carolina Senate has been formally accused of violating the state’s campaign finance disclosure laws.
Republican Sen. Ralph Hise is being investigated by the North Carolina Board of Elections after allegedly paying himself more than $10,000 from his campaign fund; failing to report receiving $9,250 from political action committees, or PACs; and failing to provide required information about his donors and expenditures on his campaign reports.
Hise is also chair of the Senate Select Committee on Elections and spearheaded the passage of the much-debated Senate Bill 68 that restructures state and local election boards and gives appointees from each major political party the ability to veto its decisions.
The bill is being challenged in court.
Voting rights advocacy group Democracy North Carolina May 9 called for Hise to recuse himself from any further involvement with the restructuring while he is being investigated.
“Because Sen. Hise has such a strong personal stake in who sits on the State Board of Elections, he needs to step aside from decisions about its make-up and duties,” Bob Hall, of Democracy North Carolina said in a press release. “If the General Assembly had its way, charges against Hise or any legislator could be blocked.”
The claims against Hise stem from two complaints filed in March 2017 by Greg Flynn, an independent government watchdog in Raleigh, and are now before the State Board.
The complaints were outlined in March 10 letter to Hise from Board of Elections compliance specialist Sheryll Harris. Hise responded to Harris’ letter in an email March 21 in which he said his campaign treasurer, his mother, Shirley Hise, was “unable to assist at this time” and that he had retained Amy Ellis to do an internal audit. He requested in the email an additional 45 days to respond. As of Monday, May 8, he had not responded.
Hall said Hise’s campaign reports “clearly violate North Carolina’s laws requiring disclosure of basic information about each donor who contributes over $50 during an election cycle” and said based on the group’s review of hundreds of reports, Hise has “the worst campaign disclosure reports of any current legislator.”
The complaint shows Hise’s reports for the 2016 election cycle leave out occupational information for all 131 of his $50-plus donors; do not give addresses for six of his larger donors; and fail to provide addresses for dozens of the PAC donors and the recipients of Hise’s campaign expenditures.
Emails and phone calls from the News-Journal requesting comment from Hise went unanswered.