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This group went too far opposing Charlotte-area developments, complaint says

A complaint filed recently with the N.C. State Board of Elections alleges that a group in Davidson went too far and violated election laws in their opposition to new developments in that town.

The complaint, filed last week by attorney John Buric of James, McElroy & Diehl, charges that the group Save Davidson is an “illegally formed and unregistered political committee organization.” The group operates a Facebook page with some 2,000 members and was behind the town’s decision to drop controversial plans to sell 19 acres to a developer for residences, shops and a park.

In the months since they formed, Save Davidson has opposed other projects, including a planned hotel downtown it says would cause too much traffic and hurt the area. The group is the biggest and most organized in a wave of opposition to new development that’s emerged in the towns north of Charlotte.

The group has also been a platform for opponents of Mayor John Woods and other incumbent local politicians, and it has recommended voting for opposing candidates in some of the upcoming elections.

Save Davidson has raised more than $100 “towards this goal of influencing the election in Davidson,” says the complaint, which names group leaders and local residents Donna Pollack and Denise Beall.

“The Save Davidson Facebook group has been allowed to be used for a platform to advocate for the defeat of incumbent Mayor John Woods,” the complaint says. “In one instance, Ms. Pollack specifically comments on her disappointment with the Mayor.”

The complaint says Save Davidson should have been registered as a political action committee or an independent expenditure committee when formed, and asks the elections board to investigate if any criminal violations have occurred.

Buric didn’t return a message seeking more information Monday. The complaint says he represents “concerned citizens,” but doesn’t list any names.

Jana Watt, spokesperson for Save Davidson, said the group is following the rules and has applied for status as a 501(c)(4) organization, a tax-exempt social welfare organization as described in the IRS code.

“The Save Davidson organization is in full compliance with all State and Federal reporting requirements. Save Davidson has filed its Articles of Incorporation with the NC Secretary of State and its application as a 501(c)(4) is pending with the Internal Revenue Service,” Watt said in a statement.

In a supplemental complaint, Buric said the pending application for nonprofit status shouldn’t erase the group’s past actions.

Ely Portillo: 704-358-5041, @ESPortillo

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