Opinion

Republicans tried to smear this NC candidate again. This time, it wasn’t nearly so funny

Republicans tried to portray NC House candidate Erica McAdoo, center, as “radical” in a news release earlier this month.
Republicans tried to portray NC House candidate Erica McAdoo, center, as “radical” in a news release earlier this month. via NC House GOP

Republicans sure must be uncomfortable with Erica McAdoo.

McAdoo, you might remember, is a Democratic candidate for North Carolina’s House District 63 in Alamance County. It’s a race that’s rated as competitive, which might explain why Republicans tried to smear McAdoo earlier this month with a comical attempt at opposition research that backfired. That 35-page oppo report, which the NCGOP suggested would reveal a “radical” McAdoo, actually showed that McAdoo had received a speeding ticket 15 years ago. Democrats and others across the state got a good chuckle.

Now the NCGOP is at it again - except this smear attempt isn’t very funny.

In a Wednesday afternoon email release, the NCGOP announced that “A campaign finance complaint was filed with the North Carolina State Board of Elections” regarding finance reports McAdoo’s campaign had submitted. “Erica McAdoo can try to hide her destructive far-left agenda from rural voters in Alamance County,” the release began. “What she can’t hide are her donors, but she’s trying to do it anyway.”

Never mind that McAdoo’s “agenda” is not at all hidden and hardly far left. Accusing a candidate of hiding donors is serious stuff — a felony, in fact, if you sign a campaign finance report that conceals who’s giving you money. So we got the complaint in question from the NCGOP and affirmed it with the N.C. Board of Elections.

As it turns out, that complaint was filed by NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse, something the news release failed to mention. More importantly, the complaint itself didn’t allege that McAdoo was trying to “hide” donors. In fact, it showed that she provided names for each contributor in her finance reports, but said that she failed to include the mailing addresses and occupations for more than 170 of those contributors, as N.C. statute requires.

That’s a significant difference. Failing to fill in a finance report fully is something that gets you a letter or call from the N.C. Board of Elections, telling you to either resubmit your form with addresses and occupations or show you’ve made your “best efforts” to obtain that information. That’s what will happen to McAdoo, and if she doesn’t comply, she faces losing the contributions in question.

But trying to hide her donors? That’s a criminal campaign finance violation. Perhaps the NCGOP was just clumsy with its wording — the news release, in its last paragraph, asked “what is it about her donors that Erica McAdoo is hiding” — or perhaps the clumsiness was intentional. And while we get that politics is the art of going right up to the edge of what’s appropriate, this allegation went over. Woodhouse and the NCGOP should clarify exactly what it believes McAdoo did and didn’t do.

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