by Greg Flynn
A campaign finance report filed by the Ralph Hise for NC Senate Committee in August contains inconsistencies that compound previous discrepancies yet to be properly addressed by Hise.
The mid-year semi-annual report for the period January through June of 2017 was submitted by Ralph Hise’s newest treasurer, Amy B Ellis, CPA. Ellis took over in May after the irregularities in Hise’s campaign finances were the subject of a complaint and follow-up by this author to the NC State Board of Elections.
The reported cash-on-hand at the beginning of the period, $34,455.02, does not match the reported cash-on-hand at the end of the prior period, $33,969.82, a difference of $485.20 not addressed in the report.
There is a reported outstanding loan balance of $708.87 from an original loan amount of $857.66, a difference of $148.79. Neither the original loan, nor a repayment of $148.79 is properly recorded in this or prior reports.
There are two reported refunds/reimbursements of $100.00 each to businesses with the notation “Check deposited in error. Refund was processed immediately upon identification.” One to “Woody’s Chair Shop of Spruce Pine, Inc” and one to “Boones Concrete Supply LLC”. There is no record in Hise’s finances of original contributions having been made by these corporate entities or any people known to be associated with them.
There is a reported payment of $485.00 in January to “Jamie M Miller, CPA, PLLC” for “Accounting Services”. In prior reports recorded payments to Miller for “Accounting Services/Fees” amount to $5,040.00 for 2014 through 2016. These expenditures are surprising considering the discrepancies in campaign finance reports as prepared and submitted by Hise and/or his treasurer.
There are no payments recorded to Hise’s current treasurer Amy B Ellis, CPA. This is not surprising as she took over in May near the end of the reporting period. Ellis serves as campaign treasurer for several Republican and conservative entities, including the Philip E Berger Committee, the NC Republican Senatorial Committee (Senate caucus committee controlled by Berger), Fair Judges and, the NC Values Coalition PAC.
Ellis was appointed to the NC Education Lottery Commission by Phil Berger in 2014. She serves as chairwoman of the commission’s Audit/Finance Committee. Her term expires August 2018. Members of the commission receive per diem, subsistence, and travel expenses.
In June the Berger committee paid a fine of $5,500 as a “prohibited contribution forfeiture”. This fine arose from a six-month audit spanning several years of reports. The audit documents were publicly posted in August. They show multiple irregularities in the Berger accounts leading to an original notice of forfeiture of $19,700, of which $14,200 was waived by the State Board of Elections because the transactions occurred outside the records retention period.
Like Phil Berger, Ralph Hise appears to be playing out the clock, with the assistance of Berger’s treasurer. Hise has yet to address any of the identified discrepancies in his campaign finance reports including apparent unreported PAC contributions and apparent overpayment of loan payments. Hise, appointed by Berger, continues to chair the Senate’s Select Committee on Elections while thumbing his nose at election laws.