BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A bill vetoed and the governor calling it an opening to conceal wrongdoing in elections. Before his statements, it had overwhelming support in the General Assembly.
The bill restores procedural practices of the State Boards on Ethics and Elections.
This was a request from the DOT and DMV out of lawsuits the legislature lost to the governor. That all led to a revision and restoring of the two boards’ constitutional powers.
This bill was changed, according to lawmakers, all in an effort to address the ongoing alleged election fraud. It saw bipartisan support until the governor vetoed it.
“It’s astonishing that the legislature has passed a bill, HB 1029, (which I vetoed) that mandates secrecy for campaign finance investigations by the Elections Board,” Gov. Roy Cooper said in a statement. “Not only that, the new bill makes it harder to prosecute people and groups that violate campaign finance laws.”
Cooper’s Friday veto came after overwhelming support in both chambers by both parties for the bill.
“His party certainly voted for it, what 81 to 18? That’s overwhelming,” Rep. Frank Iler (R-Brunswick County) said.
It passed in a 34-3 Senate vote. It sets up key mandates to hold a new primary election and general election if the state Board of Elections says one is needed. It also gives the board an April deadline to complete its investigation of voting irregularities in the 2018 election.
“We saw the shell of it, and we saw a lot of very good things,” Rep. Deb Butler (D-New Hanover County) said. “It’s a very good step in the right direction, and I thought I could support it until I saw the fact that we’re trying to protect wrongdoers.”
Rep. Butler was one of those 81 Democrats supporting the bill at first.
She tells us she did not see the part of it where the bill creates several clauses. One would set a four-year statute of limitations on complaints for campaign violations. Those complaints and investigations could all be confidential. This potentially could seal information like what has been given to the public in the current alleged election fraud investigation.
“If a complaint is filed and it is confidential then the public isn’t aware of it and an election happens,” Butler said. “Well they didn’t have all of the information in which to evaluate their candidate.”
Rep. Iler is a lead supporter of the bill. He says confidentiality is nothing new to the complaint process.
“All I can say to that is the governor has a right to be wrong, and I think he is wrong,” Iler said.
Butler says she would vote “no” on the bill if she gets a second chance on it.