MECKLENBURG – Not even a slap on the wrist; That’s the end result of former Democratic state lawmaker Rodney Moore committing campaign finance fraud for years. The State Board of Elections, which led the two year investigation into the lawmaker’s campaign finance habits are incensed. The lack of accountability for such a prolonged pattern of illegal behavior by a state representative is so alarming that even metro-papers that typically coddle Democrats and their agenda are crying foul.
From the Durham Herald Sun:
“Moore, who was indicted in March on nine felony counts involving false campaign finance reports, received a suspended sentence as part of a plea agreement with the Mecklenburg District Attorney’s office. That agreement included no fine or community service. […]
Officials at the North Carolina State Board of Elections, which audited and investigated Moore’s campaign for two years, were surprised and upset at the verdict, sources close to the investigation told the editorial board. “Mr. Moore’s punishment is not in line with the punishments of other elected officials who have committed similar campaign finance-related crimes,” state elections board spokesman Patrick Gannon said. That includes former Republican Sen. Fletcher Hartsell of Cabarrus County, who was sentenced in 2016 to eight months in prison on federal charges for using $200,000 of campaign money for personal use. […]
Last fall, the state board of elections unanimously found that Moore failed to disclose $140,000 of contributions and expenditures for at least seven years, including $24,676 he withdrew in cash from ATMs. Moore also spent money on movie tickets, dry cleaning and $3,152 of clothing. Even worse, when investigators starting asking questions, Moore and his campaign manager Tammy Neal collaborated to forge bank statements that were given to investigators. The money trail and forged statements were part of a damning presentation then-executive director Kim Strach gave to the board in October, and in March, Moore was indicted on nine felony counts of involving filing false campaign reports. […]”
Just to be clear, that is ZERO FINES, ZERO TIME IN JAIL, ZERO COMMUNITY SERVICE for the Democrat campaign finance fraudster, versus eight months in prison for a similar level of campaign finance fraud by a Republican state lawmaker.
What explains that discrepancy? That is good question. Moore pleaded guilty to only one felony, versus the nine felonies he was charged with, as part of a plea deal organized by the Mecklenburg District Attorney. The felony that stuck was, notably, not one that typically carries any jail time for first time offenders, and some of the most serious allegations against Moore were dropped altogether as part of the deal.
Remember, the investigative arm of the State Board of Elections gathered evidence for two years to support these nine felony charges. The board says they were not consulted on the plea deal that let’s Moore off the hook as if nothing happened.
“[Elections Board spokesman Patrick Gannon] says no one currently or formerly on the state elections board was consulted on the plea agreement, and sources close to the investigation told the editorial board they believe the DA’s office could have pursued the strong evidence that Moore used campaign funds for personal use. At the least, they say, the DA’s plea agreement with Moore should have included multiple felony charges rather than just one, and that N.C. lawmakers should consider stiffer penalties for campaign finance felonies. […]”
The kind of message this sends is just awful. Apparently, if you’re the right kind of public official, you can get away with a lot.
Read more about the case here.