Marcum Accuses Opponent of Violations
State Senate candidate John Marcum has filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections alleging campaign law violations by Sen. Jerry Tillman, of Randolph County.
Marcum, a Pinehurst Republican, is one of two challengers opposing Tillman in a May 8 GOP primary for Senate District 29. No Democrat filed for the race, effectively making the winner next month the senator for the newly drawn district.
In the complaint filed Friday, Marcum alleges that Tillman’s signs were placed along state highways in Randolph and Moore Counties about a week before they were allowed, that some of his campaign literature violates state law because the “paid for” attribution is too small and that a billboard for Tillman on N.C. 211 lacks proper campaign disclosure.
“It is difficult enough for newcomers to compete with long-term incumbents and their large funding, without such violations also being used to their advantage, campaign after campaign,” Marcum said in his complaint to the state, pointing out that Tillman has been fined at least twice in the past for campaign finance violations.
Tillman on Monday acknowledged that some of his volunteers put out signs on state roads a week before they were permitted and that he had them removed when informed that it was too early. He said the campaign will no longer use the fliers in question.
He said his campaign did not pay for the billboard on N.C. 211 between Seven Lakes and Pinehurst. He said it could be a citizens group or some other political action committee.
“I don’t have a clue where that came from,” Tillman said. “My campaign did not do it. It was news to me. It was a surprise. If we are out of compliance, we will address it. We want to be in compliance.”
Marcum said that Tillman was told to remove the signs after Marcus complained to the Moore County Board of Elections about the road signs being put out a week early.
“Of course, they were put back up the next week, and in this process he gained an illegal week of advertising against his opponents during this short campaign,” Marcum said in the state complaint.
Moore County Elections Director Glenda Clendenin confirmed that Tillman’s campaign was contacted and told to remove the signs from state-maintained roads after Marcum complained. Under state law, signs can be placed 30 days prior to the start of one-stop voting, which was March 20, she said. Most towns allow campaign signs 30 days prior to the election, which was April 9.
Marcum contends in the complaint that Tillman distributed thousands of campaign fliers bearing a “paid for” attribution that is a violation of campaign law because it is too small.
“The attributions almost require a magnifying glass to read,” he said in the complaint. “There are thousands of copies still on tables at political offices and other locations. Please require that these be destroyed with appropriate censure and penalty to Tillman’s campaign.”
Tillman said he was unaware that the font was too small until he was contacted by the State Board of Elections. He said it would be nearly impossible to retrieve them now.
“We have used the same size for 10 years,” he said. “We will not use those cards anymore unless we can get them reprinted, which is unlikely. These cards are everywhere. I don’t know where they all are now.”
Marcum said in the complaint that the billboard for Tillman on N.C. 211 between Seven Lakes and Pinehurst “does not have an explicit campaign attribution to Tillman but has an apparent list of corporate donors in small print at the bottom. There is no report in the campaign records of a PAC bearing these names. Please investigate the source and proper attribution, and have the billboard removed if appropriate.”
He also raised questions about Tillman’s campaign signs being affixed to the metal supports of county and state highway road signs.
“These campaign signs appear to be either fastened directly to the metal stakes or lean against them standing on a small wooden stake,” the complaint says. “Please review the applicable law and determine whether these signs should be removed.”
Marcum contends that this is not the first time Tillman has been found in violation of campaign election laws and fined.
“Because of this poor start to his current campaign, we have examined your records of his previous campaigns and have found previous violations involving fines,” Marcum’s complaint says. “One involved a failure to timely disclose, just prior to the election, six separate corporate donations of $1,000 each.”
According to state campaign finance records, the state fined Tillman $500 on Oct. 20, 2010, for failing to report the contributions within the required 48-hour time period after they were received. His campaign was also fined $500 on Feb. 28, 2011, for failing to report a $1,000 contribution with the 48-hour time period.
Tillman said his campaign missed that deadline by a few hours and that his campaign paid the two fines.
Marcum added that there have been “numerous examples of violations not rising to the level of a fine or formal complaint” in the past.
“Accordingly, I would appreciate your reviewing all state BOE (Board of Elections) records, together with the records of the Randolph and Montgomery County BOEs, and send us the results of all such incidents as soon as possible,” he wrote in the complaint. “I’m sure you will agree that a long-term senator with numerous campaigns under his belt should be knowledgeable of campaign law requirements. Given that background and his record of violations, it seems that Tillman has little respect for the BOE requirements.”
Tillman responded, “What this sounds like to me is desperate tactics.”
Contact David Sinclair at (910) 693-2462 or email@example.com
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