Progress NC Action Ethics Complaint: Rep. Mike Stone held illegal campaign raffle

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Campaign finance reports show Rep. Stone raised thousands from a raffle in 2012, while such gambling activities were illegal for political campaign 

SANFORD, NC -- Progress North Carolina Action will file a complaint with the State Ethics Commission on Monday showing evidence that Rep. Mike Stone (R-District 51) held an illegal raffle for his political campaign in 2012. 

[Download a PDF of the ethics complaint here]

Evidence shows that on August 24, 2012, Rep. Stone held a raffle to benefit his reelection campaign at the Lee County Fairgrounds. The raffle event was advertised on a website called “Social Sanford,” with tickets costing $100 per couple for a steak dinner and “reverse drawing” with a $5,000 prize.

Campaign finance reports show that the following day, Stone’s campaign paid out $5,600 in “drawing prizes” to eight individuals. Stone’s campaign took in numerous $100 donations during the weeks leading up to the event, including donations from all eight prize-winners. The report was filed on October 29, 2012, the date the political purpose of the raffle became certain.

However, raffle drawings by political campaigns were illegal when Stone’s “reverse drawing” was held. At the time, state law only allowed nonprofit organizations to conduct raffles if they met a specific set of criteria. The statute listed several types of organizations which were allowed to hold raffles, but this list did not include political candidates or committees. The law stated that an organization which conducted a raffle outside the law’s specifications was “guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor.”

This isn’t the first time Rep. Stone’s “gambling problem” has run afoul of the law. In 2011, the News & Observer caught Rep. Stone running illegal video poker machines in his grocery store in 2011. Meanwhile, he participated in secret talks between Republican lawmakers and lobbyists for the video poker industry.

More recently, Stone took a $4,000 campaign donation from an indicted video sweepstakes executive -- and refused to give the money back. When pressed to return or donate the money, he falsely claimed the Board of Elections told him to keep the money -- even though other Republicans such as Senate President Phil Berger had no trouble returning it.

“In Rep. Stone, we see a growing pattern of a politician with a gambling problem,” said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress North Carolina Action. “Voters want leaders who shoot straight and play by the rules, not politicians who cut corners and flirt with the law to hustle up campaign cash through gambling rackets and shady connections. We hope the Ethics Commission will investigate this right away.”

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