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Will the Board of Elections charge Brian Berger for failure to submit election finance reports?

Ashley Withers
StarNews
Brian Berger. StarNews file photo.

Brian Berger. StarNews file photo.

Q. Will the State Board of Elections file charges against Brian Berger for failure to submit election finance reports? Why hasn’t he already faced action?

A. New Hanover County Commissioner Brian Berger is considered “inactive” by the State Board of Elections, according to New Hanover Elections Director Marvin McFadyen.

Candidate committees that do not desire to disburse all funds nor intend to receive any contributions or make expenditures for a period of time may file a Certification of Inactive Status form. By filing this form, the committee certifies that it will remain inactive — not receiving contributions or making expenditures — until a Certification to Return to Active Status form is filed, McFadyen said. During the time the committee is inactive, disclosure reports are not required to be filed. When the committee’s intent changes, the Certification to Return to Active Status form should be completed and all subsequent disclosure reports should be filed.

Any committee that has failed to file a report, filed a report late, failed to respond to a request for additional information from the county board of elections or has receipts or disbursements that are considered a violation of campaign finance law must be reported to the State Board of Elections so notification can be sent to the committee. Candidate committees are assessed penalties for failure to file reports by the State Board of Elections. Failure to pay assessed penalties could result in a committee’s active status being terminated. Once a committee’s active status is terminated, the committee is not eligible to receive contributions or make expenditures until all disclosure is complete and penalties are paid.

“Berger was notified several times in 2012 by the state board for noncompliance and the probability of termination of inactive status within the statutory time frame, however, termination never occurred,” McFadyen said. “Our office made several requests in 2013 to terminate his status, but on Sept. 6, 2013, Berger filed the certification of inactive status with our office. There are still discrepancies and reports that have not been filed between 2011 and 2013, and although the State has the authority to assess, or not assess, penalties, we have no records of any assessments or collections for Berger.”

Under N.C.G.S. § 163-278.22(7) the State Board of Elections investigates any complaint filed under oath by a registered voter with respect to alleged violations of Article 22A through 22M of the General Statutes.

“The Campaign Finance Division of the State Board of Elections investigates all complaints filed in this manner. County Boards of Elections that receive complaints of alleged violations of state campaign finance law are required to forward those complaints to the State Board of Elections for investigation,” McFadyen said. “Our office files all notices to the SBE regarding the report filings. Allegations or requests for SBE investigation would relate more to illegal activities involving contributions or expenditures, not being slack.”

RELATED LINKS:

What is the status of Brian Berger’s campaign finance reports?

Where is Commissioner Brian Berger? Is he still being paid?

User-contributed question by:
Joan Ward

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