WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The State Board of Elections wants more information about a gas giveaway event over the weekend sponsored by a Republican candidate for the US House of Representatives. Will Breazeale offered up to $20 worth of gas for anyone who agreed to volunteer for his campaign in the final days before Election Day, but we found not everyone was really volunteering.
We sent WWAY reporter Ramon Herrera through the line at the Exxon in front of Independence Mall in Wilmington Saturday morning. Ramon told campaign workers and Breazeale that he had no time to volunteer, but would take a bumper sticker and yard signs. Ramon made no promise to volunteer for the campaign, yet he got the gas.
Before and after the event, we talked with Don Wright, the SBOE general counsel. He said would take the information we shared to his superiors.
Monday we asked Breazeale about the Saturday event. After our interview, he called our newsroom to say his campaign had talked to a compliance officer at the State Board of Elections, who said the giveaway was legal.
Late Monday afternoon, we talked with State Elections Director Gary Bartlett. He said he did not know anything about a conversation between his staff and the Breazeale campaign, but he said he was aware of the event from Wright. When asked if putting a bumper sticker on your car was volunteering, Bartlett would only say it is an expression of free speech.
Bartlett said while nothing wrong may have happened, he wants to get all the information to be sure.