WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- On this election day illegal campaign donations are making headlines. In New Hanover County court today, businessman Rusty Carter was convicted of skirting the law to funnel money to high-profile Democrats.
Carter contributed to three political campaigns: Gov. Beverly Perdue, state Sen. Marc Basnight and state Sen. Julia Boseman. He won't be able to contribute to political campaigns for the next two years. Judge John Carroll also sentenced Carter to two years of unsupervised probation.
David Long, Carter's attorney said "today he(Carter) realizes what he did was inappropriate. And how did he not see that before? There's no reasoning for this. It's what he believed. He believed this is the way it's done."
Assistant district attorney Tom Old says Carter got off easy due to the way the campaign law is written. " the first instance where he believed there was a problem he went to the state board of elections and came to our office, he and his two lawyers, and said we think we've done something wrong and we want to step up and take responsibility. He's done this rather openly for a period of six years. It wasn't a single contribution where he's spread money around to one candidate and thought I will get away with it. He actually thought it was ok to do. He knew he couldn't contribute $4,000 through the corporation because the candidates would have sent that money back. Because they can't accept checks from a corporation."
The campaign contributions totaled $176,000, most of which has either been returned or will be returned. In North Carolina it is illegal to donate campaign money in someone else's name. David Carter owns Atlantic Corporation. It's a Wilmington packaging company.