The North Carolina governor’s race is getting a lot of attention from outside spending groups. Both Democrat Walter Dalton and Republican Pat McCrory are getting help from organizations like the Republican and Democratic Governor’s Association Paul Abowd of the Center for Public Integrity has been following the race. Morning Edition Host Duncan McFadyen recently asked him just HOW much money is being spent.
ABOWD: They’re spending about on a par with the candidates, maybe a little less. SO far the campaigns have spent about $4 million and counting, between the two of them. And they’ve raised much more. So, we’re looking at a race that will cost between---it’s hard to tell because of disclosure---but we’re looking at a race that will cost between $15 or $20 million.
MCFADYEN: Give us some examples of some of the big corporations or unions that have given money to one or both of these organizations.
ABOWD: Sure, so the RGA listed 38 corporations ad basically underwriters of the ad, trying to tie his record to Bev Perdue’s low popularity ratings. But, the corporations include global giants like General Electric, Dallas-based AT&T, a chamber of commerce from Milwaukee 900 miles away gave a six-figure sum to this ad campaign…
MCFADYEN: Wait, so companies can donate directly to this North Carolina ad campaign?
ABOWD: That’s what we’re seeing, yeah, on these state filings we are seeing for the first time in state history, the RGA is buying these ads and for the first time, is listing as the funders of those ads 38 out of state corporations. So, to give you an example, AT&T through its PAC it gave $2500 to pat McCrory this year. They turned around a month later and gave 200 times that---$250,000--- from AT&T to the RGA which then used that money to run ads in the state. On the flip side, the DGA has given millions of dollars to a North Carolina PAC---North Carolina Citizens for Progress. And by funneling money to another group, they effectively obscure the source of original funding for these ad campaigns going after McCrory. So, we really have no idea where this money is coming from, specifically. The benefit for the corporation is that they can have a much greater impact on the outcome of the election by giving to an outside group instead of a candidate.
MCFADYEN: But the corporations in some cases---for instance, in your article you write General Electric specifically disavows any knowledge of where their money went.
ABOWD: Yeah, and that’s an interesting wrinkle to theis story. The RGA is basically putting the names of these corporations who have given them money to a general fund for ad campaigns all over the country. But they are listing these specific 38 corporations as the sponsors of this ad campaign against (Walter) Dalton. And what our investigation uncovered is that it’s not quite that simple: a lot of these corporations give money to both sides, and they’re really weary of being seen as supporting one candidate or the other. And so it has put these corporate donors in sort of an uncomfortable position, because they are technically the funders of these ad campaigns.