Time for Hearings in Sweepstakes Probe
An opinion column in the News and Observer says it's time for hearings to investigate the ongoing probe into potentially illegal campaign contributions from the sweepstakes industry. Gov. Pat McCrory, Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis all received campaign contributions from sweepstakes groups. Here's an excerpt from the column,
At issue are contributions from Chase Burns, a video sweepstakes software provider who lives in Anadarko, Okla. The video gaming industry has been pushing for approval in North Carolina since the state moved to ban the games a few years ago. The Associated Press has reported that the checking account Burns and his wife used in 2012 to make $235,000 in donations to dozens of North Carolina campaigns contained proceeds of a criminal gambling enterprise in other states. The AP reported that most of the checks Burns gave to North Carolina politicians "were mailed or hand-delivered by staff at Moore & Van Allen, a Charlotte law and lobbying firm where McCrory worked until just days before being sworn into office."
In September, Burns pleaded no contest in Florida to two criminal counts of assisting in the operation of a lottery. After Burns was charged, the campaigns of McCrory, Tillis and Berger gave to charity any donations tied to Burns.
It's not publicly known what Burns thought he could get in North Carolina and whether his contributions were properly given and properly received. That's why the State Board of Elections should have held hearings by now. Its delay contrasts sharply with the behavior of the Democratic-led board, which moved quickly to hold hearings when complaints were filed and referred its findings to prosecutors when appropriate.