state board of elections
6400 Mail Service Center ● Raleigh, NC 27699-6400
GARY O. BARTLETT Mailing Address:
Director PO Box 2169
Raleigh, NC 27602-2169
Fax (919) 715-0135
October 8, 1998
Mr. George E. Wilson, Treasurer
Sampson County Republican Party
PO Box 1325
Clinton, NC 28328
Re: Advisory Ruling issued under G.S. 163-278.23
Dear Mr. Wilson:
In your letter dated September 29, 1998, you state that the Sampson County Republican Party is in the process of totally renovating the headquarters it owns. New bathrooms, kitchen area, heat & air conditioning, new lighting, store front, ceiling, carpet, walls, and other items have been built and paid for from the Building Fund. The request for a ruling is to determine is whether or not building fun money can be used to purchase appliances, desks, chairs, telephone system, and etc.
An October 7, 1994 opinion on "Political Party Building Funds" permitted State political parties to accept contributions from business entities, including corporations into a separate segregated building fund. Provided district and county executive committees strictly adhere to the provisions, district and county executive committee building funds may accept business contributions. The provisions are as follows:
1. Business contributions solicited and accepted are designated for the building fund.
2. Potential business contributors are advised that all business contributions will be exclusively for the building fund.
3. A separate segregated bank account in which only business contributions designated for the building fund will be deposited is established.
4. The funds deposited in that separate account will be expended only to purchase or construct, or in payment of the mortgage, for a headquarters, or to refund contributions if a facility is not acquired.
5. No business funds received will be used for the purpose of influencing Federal, State, or local elections.
6. No limit, other than on a voluntary basis, is placed on the amount of the business contributions, individual or collectively, to the building fund.
7. The building fund contributions and expenditures shall be disclosed to the public in an annual report filed at the Campaign Reporting Office, no later than the last Friday in January of the following year.
The opinion gave particular attention to the fact that the building fund ruling does not allow either monetary or in-kind contributions from any business entity for headquarters rent and utilities, either as a part of a building fund or into any political party fund or bank account.
After careful review, and considering that the opinion provides for a building fund to receive business contributions only to purchase or construct or in payment of the mortgage for a headquarters, or to refund contributions if a facility is not acquired, the response must be no. The Building Fund cannot be used to purchase equipment and furnishings for headquarters and should refund any business contributions that remain after reconstruction is complete and any mortgage is paid.
I am sorry this ruling is unfavorable. However, the Sampson County Republican Party may certainly pay for equipment and furnishings from its treasury account holding funds contributed by individuals from their personal funds.
Very truly yours,
Gary O. Bartlett