Black Political Caucus, influential political player, fined for late finance reports

Charlotte’s Black Political Caucus, a key player in this year’s city elections, has paid fines totaling $1,500 for failing to file spending reports on time.

The caucus paid the fine this month after notifications of repeated compliance violations from the state Board of Elections.

Long a mainstay in Charlotte politics, the caucus appears to have been reinvigorated this year. It endorsed candidates well before September’s primary and sponsored several debates, one broadcast on Spectrum News.

All of the candidates it endorsed went on to win in the Democratic primary.

Now it has endorsed Democrat Vi Lyles in the general election for mayor and a slate of school board and city council candidates, including Republican Tariq Bokhari.

The penalties date to the second quarter of 2016 and were levied on late filings for the final three quarters of the year. Caucus Chair Colette Forrest, who took over in February, said she happened on the outstanding penalties just a few weeks ago.

“I was extremely disappointed,” she said. “I didn’t know this had taken place prior to me stumbling upon it. … Even though it didn’t happen on my watch, I’m responsible that it get cleared up on my watch.”

Letters from the state board show that the caucus was late on each of four required reports last year. A fine for the tardy first quarter report was waived.

Gloria Rembert was the caucus chair in 2016. Any complaints involving compliance go to the treasurer, she said.

“I’m not going to discuss anything else with you about what happened or if it happened,” Rembert said. “I’m not saying who’s responsible and who’s not responsible.”

Asked if an explanation was due to caucus members, Rembert said, “If it is anything that is owed to the members, that is something that will be discussed in closed session.”

The caucus already has sent voters one mailer with its endorsements. It’s expected to send more.

Said Forrest: “We’re on schedule to do what we need to do.”

Jim Morrill: 704-358-5059, @jimmorrill