Campaign finance audit for Democratic lawmaker remains in progress – News & Observer

Auditors at the State Board of Elections have reviewed campaign finance reports filed by Rep. Michael Wray since 2004 and are awaiting more details from the Gaston Democrat on his campaign’s spending on meals, mileage and lodging, a board spokesman said.

Spokesman Josh Lawson said Wray’s campaign reports show expenses of more than $65,000 for fuel and mileage, $40,000 for meals and $5,700 for lodging since 2006.

“We are seeking clarification regarding numerous line-items within each category,” Lawson wrote in an email.

Wray, who serves as his own campaign treasurer and is the deputy Democratic leader in the House, has told the board that he would provide more details, Lawson wrote. “Communication on this matter is ongoing, with the most recent exchange occurring last week,” he added.

Attempts to reach Wray in person, by phone and by email Tuesday were unsuccessful. The conservative publication, Carolina Journal, reported Tuesday that Wray had owed more than $100,000 in back federal, state and local taxes, citing public records on file in Northampton and Halifax counties.

The same report quoted a Democratic strategist and Wray’s lawyer saying the debts had been paid.

Rep. Larry Hall, D-Durham, the House Democratic leader, said Tuesday that Wray told him he paid the taxes. Hall also said he has no concerns about the campaign finance situation. “I think he’s working with the State Board of Elections, and they’ve been going through that process and they have not taken any action other than to say they are reviewing his records,” Hall said. “I would rest my confidence with the system working as it’s supposed to.”

The Insider first reported in early September that Wray’s House campaign reported 427 fuel purchases between July 2011 and June 2013, or more than one every other day for two years, spending $28,700 on fuel. The campaign reported buying enough gas in two years to travel well over 100,000 miles.

Wray’s campaign committee also reported spending for meals and other food purchases at least 177 times in those two years, totaling nearly $17,700, an average of about $100 a meal. Wray said last year that he drove a large SUV and that he commuted between his home in Gaston in Raleigh each day during session and that he routinely drove around his large, two-county district. He described himself as a “full-time legislator.” The five-term lawmaker has also said he eats on the road during his travels and sometimes dines with constituents and picks up the tab.

State campaign finance laws allow candidate campaigns to use contributions for expenses resulting from campaigns or from holding public office, as well as for donations to charities and other political candidates or parties, and to pay penalties for violations of campaign finance laws. Candidates and elected officials cannot use campaign funds to pay personal expenses not related to the elected office or campaign.

Campaign finance audit for Democratic lawmaker remains in progress – News & Observer}

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