In a separate but related story, Joe Sam Queen and three other former Democratic state senators are suing their Republican opponents in the midterm elections for alleged violations of state campaign finance laws.
According to the lawsuit filed on behalf of Queen, Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Spruce Pines) failed to claim hundreds of thousands of dollars on at least one campaign report. Either that or he lied when he said he paid for a series of television attack ads against the Queen campaign. The money which was used to pay for the ads came from the state Republican Party, but those ads identified Hise’s political campaign committee as having paid for the ads.
“Stand By Your Ad” is a state law which requires candidates who buy campaign advertisements to identify themselves. If the ads were in fact bought with state GOP funds, they incorrectly identified Hise’s committee as the funding source.
“The citizens of the 47th Senate district didn’t know who paid for these ads,” said Queen, adding that transparency is extremely important to the political process. “The public needs to know who is supporting the candidates during the election, and not learn about it in some lawsuit after voting is over.”
Hise could not comment on the pending lawsuit other than to say that it is without merit or basis. “We’re confident we will prevail,” he said.
At least 10 other Republican freshmen in the General Assembly have been accused of the same violations, though the only other lawsuits involve Wesley Meredith (R-Fayetteville) and Louis Pate (R-Mount Olive). The state Republican Executive Committee is also named in the lawsuits.
Sen. Jim Davis (R-Franklin) also had ads that he claimed were paid for by his campaign but which were actually funded by the state Republicans. Former Sen. John Snow, who was defeated by Davis, said he believes that Queen and others who have filed lawsuits have valid claims, but that he had decided not to file a suit to avoid the legal wrangling a lawsuit would entail.
“I just didn’t want to get involved in a lawsuit that might carry on for 10 years,” he explained.
“This is much ado about nothing, in my opinion,” said Davis about the lawsuits. “As the wheels of justice unfold, we’ll be able to find out what the courts have to say.”