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Energy group didn’t report ads touting Kay Hagan, advocate says

A green-energy group apparently violated federal election rules with television ads touting Sen. Kay Hagan before her May 6 Democratic primary win, an open government advocate says.

The Sunlight Foundation, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, says the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy didn’t report its spending for the ads to the Federal Election Commission.

The Knoxville, Tenn.-based alliance has an Asheville office.

“Any ads that ran within the electioneering window were run in error,” an alliance spokeswoman, Jennifer Rennicks, said by email. “We are taking this very seriously, and we’re examining what may have happened to determine our next course of action.”

Federal rules require reporting as “electioneering communications” ads that feature candidates for federal office and appear less than 30 days before a primary, the Sunlight Foundation said, even if they don’t urge viewers to vote for or against the candidate.

The foundation found documents showing TV ad buys featuring Hagan running through April 13, within the 30-day standard. The ads appeared in three North Carolina media markets, including Charlotte.

A March 24 press release from the energy group said the ads tout Hagan’s support of clean energy, jobs and clean air policies.

“The North Carolina ad is part of a multimillion dollar clean energy and public health campaign to thank congressional leaders for taking leadership roles on these important issues,” it said.

Henderson: 704-358-5051; Twitter: @bhender
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