Alleged campaign finance crimes haunt North Carolina’s Republican gubernatorial frontrunner Mark Robinson

North Carolina’s Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson is no stranger to financial struggles.  

Since he was elected in 2020, news has emerged about Robinson being evicted for not paying rent (his elderly landlord decided against pursuing the case, partly because he was busy caring for his wife who was ill with cancer).  

We’ve also learned that Robinson stiffed Guilford County on vehicle taxes for multiple years, only making good after WRAL called him out on it in 2022.  (Robinson’s lame response was “I’m not very good at math,” as if complex calculations are required to know that the law requires North Carolina residents to pay taxes on an annual basis.)

Part of Robinson’s appeal to voters is his down-to-earth image, and I’m sure plenty of his supporters and detractors alike can relate to the problem of more month than money.

But how many of us can relate to criminal violations of campaign finance law?

This week those allegations surfaced in the form of an open letter to Mark Robinson by veteran political watchdog Bob Hall.

The story actually goes back to a complaint Hall filed with North Carolina’s State Board of Elections about a month after Robinson was inaugurated Lieutenant Governor in 2021. 

Hall had been tipped off by a News and Observer reporter and asked to look into some odd expenses that had been filed by Robinson’s campaign.  What Hall discovered amounted to more than a half million dollars of what he termed “criminal violations” of campaign finance law.

Here are some highlights:

Illegal cash withdrawals deposited to State Employees Credit Union where separate records show Robinson had a personal loan

$4500 to Robinson’s wife Yolanda Hill for “campaign apparel”

$2375 to Lake Gaston Outfitters for “campaign clothing and accessories.”  Lake Gaston Outfitters bills itself as offering “high quality paddle, hiking & cycling gear.”  

$12,000 in illegal contributions from out of state PACs and organizations not authorized to donate in North Carolina

Illegal donations over the campaign limit of $5400 from which the excess amounts were not refunded to donors as law required

Failure to properly identify 258 donors (totalling $360,000 in donations) 

There’s more.  A lot more.

After Hall’s complaint was filed, a Robinson campaign staffer said “We are transitioning to new staff, and our team is in the process of working with the NCSBE to fix any and all mistakes, and to amend our reports to be accurate and up to date.”

Hall’s open letter notes Robinson promised the “clerical errors” would be fixed “quick, fast and in a hurry.”  Now almost three years after he assumed office, exactly zero amended reports have been filed.  The State Board of Elections investigation is presumably still moving along at a glacial pace.

And Mark Robinson is in the middle of a campaign to assume the highest office in North Carolina, our next governor.

You can read Bob Hall’s complaint filed with the State Board of Elections below:

Complaint-Mark-Robinson-SBOE

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