The North Carolina Association of Educators Political Action Committee (NCAE PAC) included in its second-quarter 2020 finance report contributions to Gov. Roy Cooper’s and NC Sen. Dan Blue’s campaigns in excess of the legal limit.
To clarify what was going on, the Civitas Institute filed complaints with the NC State Board of Elections (SBE) asking them to investigate, noting that “Per the NCAE PAC’s second-quarter 2020 campaign contribution disclosures, they have violated campaign contribution law.”
I have just received word from the SBE that they have completed their investigation into the NCAE PAC. Here are their key findings:
- The NCAE PAC contributed $2,000 over the legal limit to Sen. Blue’s campaign.
- The NCAE PAC contributed $1,000 over the legal limit to Gov. Cooper’s campaign.
- Both campaigns refunded the illegal contributions, as mandated by state law.
- The NCAE PAC erroneously reported further contributions to both candidates (including $5,400 to ” Roy Cooper for Attorney General”) that were never sent.
So, the investigations revealed that the NCAE PAC did make illegal contributions to both campaigns. However, both the Cooper and Blue campaigns returned the illegal donations and there is no indication that either campaign did anything wrong in this matter.
Now, what are we to make of the NCAE PAC’s illegal contributions to the Cooper and Blue campaigns? Given the evidence available, I believe that Hanlon’s razor applies here, my preferred form of which is:
Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.
I think we should give NCAE PAC the benefit of the doubt and assume that their actions were due to incompetence rather than malice unless we find evidence to the contrary. After all, an organization capable of erroneously reporting that it had contributed $5,400 to “Roy Cooper for Attorney General” in 2020 is certainly capable of misplacing $3,000 of their donors’ money. The NCAE PAC seems to have come to the same conclusion; they replaced their treasurer on October 19, just two weeks before election day.
Here are the closure reports from the SBE on the NCAE PAC:
Closure report: NCAE PAC; Cooper for NC
Closure report: NCAE PAC; Citizens for Dan Blue