Brandon forfeits direct family donations to campaign account

A candidate for US Congress who is currently a member of the North Carolina General Assembly paid a $5,000 fine for prohibited contributions to his state campaign.
Rep. Marcus Brandon represents NC 60 in the state house, but is not seeking reelection while he runs for the Congressional seat vacated by Mel Watt.
According to a recent federal campaign finance report, Brandon paid a $5,000 fine to the NC Civil Penalties and Forfeiture Fund on March 1.
Independent government watchdog Greg Flynn of Raleigh first reported the payment today on his blog. Flynn characterized the fine as penalty for “prohibited contributions.”
In a telephone interview, Flynn said he became aware of concerns with Brandon’s campaign finance reports last year. Brandon had attended a trip to Florida where about a dozen North Carolina legislators heard pitches in favor of school vouchers. The trip also included a speech by Jeb Bush.
Flynn said Brandon had committed to paying back part of the expenses of the trip and so Flynn was exploring campaign finance reports last February when he discovered instances of known PAC payments that had not been reported by Brandon’s campaign finance committee.
Flynn filed a complaint in Feb. 2013 that outlined more than two dozen contributions to the Brandon committee amounting to $10,000 that had not been recorded. Flynn also noted three contributions from registered lobbyists.
In an email dated Feb. 28, Brandon responded.
“I want to say that Mr. Flynn complaint against my campaign on its face appears to be correct,” Brandon wrote. “However I want to say that there was a series of errors on behalf of our campaign that led to the discrepancies. We are working to rectify the situation as soon as possible. I take the complaint very seriously and will do everything humanly possible to make sure we are compliant.”
Brandon’s campaign finance file is under review by the state board of elections. A spokesperson for the agency said that the case is ongoing.
“It may be that there are more fees assessed in the future,” said Joshua Lawson of the SBOE.
Brandon said late Monday that the fine was made up of about $3,000 in contributions he needed to forfeit, and the balance was for outstanding fines related to incomplete or late campaign finance reports.
The forfeited contributions were direct deposits by family members to his campaign account that took place during the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
Brandon said that the expense of attending the event as a delegate was more than he had anticipated and the easiest way to make up the difference was for his parents and other family members to make deposits into his account.
Since cash contributions are limited to $50, the Board of Elections determined those to be illegal contributions, Brandon said. He forfeited that amount by paying the fine last month.
Brandon said he is in the process of closing his state campaign account and had asked about the review of his finances in preparation of filing his most recent state report, which was due today.

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