A new GOP-majority state elections board takes office Wednesday as new details raise deeper questions about $240,000 in campaign contributions funneled to the governor and top Republican lawmakers from the sweepstakes gambling industry. State Board of Elections investigators are reviewing more than 60 donations from sweepstakes company owners – and still unearthing more money – as part of a complaint filed last week that suggests the checks may violate campaign finance laws. A majority of the outgoing elections board wanted to pursue the investigation but took no action on the matter Tuesday at its final meeting, saying the decision should fall to the new board.
The extent of the inquiry – and whether it merits a more formal criminal investigation – is one of the first matters the new board may take up. It will also consider whether to hire a new elections chief or retain executive director Gary Bartlett, whose term expires May 15.
McCrory appointed the three Republicans and two Democrats to the board Friday evening, picking from nominations made by the state’s major political parties. None have served on the board previously. He selected the top two Democrats on the list, leaving off two incumbent board members who were renominated, including outgoing Chairman Larry Leake, who served 20 years.