A complaint filed with the State Board of Elections this week alleges that the Neighbors on Call Political Action Committee is taking in-kind contributions from the state Democratic Party that exceed the limits set by campaign finance laws.
The complaint points to General Statute 163.278.13 (a), which states, “No individual, political committee, or other entity shall contribute to any candidate or other political committee any money or make any other contribution in any election in excess of $5,600 for that election.”
The law also bans groups and candidates from accepting an individual or committee contribution valued in excess of $5,600 for an election.
The complaint, filed by Jim Stirling with the Civitas Center for Public Integrity at the John Locke Foundation, alleges that the North Carolina Democratic Party is coordinating with the local PAC Neighbors on Call to use the Democrats’ phone banking system and canvassing software, even having workshops where NCDP leadership trains their volunteers on how to use it. The data management system, NGP VAN, is a Democratic Party canvassing tool that tracks voters, their addresses, and voting patterns. It has a recurring cost of an estimated $10,000 a month. With just a week to go before Election Day, Neighbors on Call is allegedly using the tools to send volunteers into neighborhoods, knocking on doors on behalf of Democrat candidates.
“Data analytics are critical to any political campaign, and having sophisticated tools like these are priceless,” said Stirling. “Putting them in the hands of a local PAC that only reports less than $13,000 in income? It’s clearly a shared resource and a contribution to their operations worth significantly more than the $5,600 limit.”
The Twitter account for Neighbors on Call shows volunteers and Democrat candidates for the General Assembly using the tools in regular, massive weekend operations, knocking on doors, and handing out candidate literature.
“In a time where candidates and parties are working so hard to ensure fair, trustworthy elections, the party leadership knows better than to give an expensive partisan tool to a local group positioning itself as a get-out-the-vote operation,” said Stirling.
Based on their third-quarter campaign-finance reports, Neighbors on Call also appears to have contributed directly to Wake County Democrat candidates Sydney Batch, Terrence Everitt, and the Committee to Elect Bode — for Mary Willis Bode — through in-kind contributions and distribution of literature. A coordinated expenditure between a PAC and a party committee is not permitted under campaign finance law.
The State Board of Elections has not publicly weighed on in the complaint as of Tuesday afternoon. Should their investigation find that the distribution and coordination of the resources does violate campaign finance laws, the penalty could mean closure of Neighbors on Call.