Saturday, January 12, 2013

Legislative ethics NC-style

The Republican Senate chair of the Legislative Ethics Committee has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. The Charlotte Observer reports
State Sen. Fletcher Hartsell Jr. spent nearly $100,000 of his campaign’s money in 2011 and 2012 paying off debts on at least 10 personal credit cards, according to new campaign finance reports.

...The disclosure forms also show the campaign writing checks to two banks and a credit union in relatively large amounts. Last month, for example, the Hartsell campaign paid the State Employees’ Credit Union $750. The listed purpose of the spending is “bank transfer.” Hartsell said he could not immediately explain the bank spending and would not rule out cash withdrawals.
Sen. Hartsell was unopposed in his most recent primary and general election campaigns, so you really have to wonder why the contributions were needed in the first place. Just as Pig-Pen from Peanuts was the only kid who could create a dust cloud in a snow-storm, Sen. Hartsell seems to have a rare ability to create expenses in uncontested elections.

It is probably not too surprising that Sen. Harsell's Legislative Ethics Committee found no violations whatsoever last year (heck, it even managed to dismiss more complaints than it received).

Sen. Hartsell's campaign finance reports are available from the State Board of Elections website. If his 2nd quarter 2008 report is any indication ($8,872.66 paid to cover his personal American Express card), Sen. Hartell's questionable reporting goes back a ways.