First you thin their ranks, then you question their membership numbers:
The legislature started requiring the audits in 2014, after a different Republican-backed law targeting the NCAE was struck down in court as unconstitutional. But each year, the NCAE simply refuses to cooperate. “... It certainly appears NCAE is refusing to respond because it does not meet the requirement and is violating the law,” Republican Sen. Ralph Hise said in an email. Hise is a critic of the NCAE who was a driving force behind the audit requirement.
The NCAE says it doesn’t have to comply with the audit. “The NCAE believe the law as written and being implemented by the state Auditor is overly intrusive in violation of the constitutional rights of the association and its members and further exceeds the authority of the state Auditor,” the group wrote in a letter to state officials earlier this year.
As usual, this is just another end-around attempt by Republicans to get something the courts refused to allow them, the discontinuation of payroll-deducted membership dues. But what nobody seems to want to talk about: Membership in the NCAE is voluntary. As in, the teachers in question have agreed to pay these dues, and are fine with that method of payment. This isn't just an attack on the NCAE as a monolithic entity, it's an attack on the individual teachers themselves. And frankly, Ralph Hise is the last person who should be criticizing people over non-compliance:
State Senator Ralph Hise appears to have received over $10,000 more in loan repayments from his campaign committee than the total amount of loans he has made to the committee. Since the formation of the Ralph Hise for NC Senate Committee in 2009 campaign finance records show evidence of 17 personal loans from Ralph E Hise Jr totaling $50,694.37, and evidence of 39 loan repayments totaling $61,020.98, an excess of $10,326.61. Earlier today I filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections regarding this, and other apparent irregularities.
Reports for the past two years contain no record of occupation or employer for individual contributors, and the most recent report contains no address information for them. Prior reports inconsistently record this information.
There are three recent disbursements in rounded amounts that raise questions as to specific campaign purpose in the absence of itemized data:
07/08/16 $3,600.00 Energy Savers, Spruce Pine
10/13/16 $1,000.00 Ralph E Hise Jr, Campaign suppli
10/13/16 $1,000.00 Ralph E Hise Jr, Campaign reimb
Energy Savers is apparently a small contractor specializing in exterior finishes.
There is a lack of continuity between some sequential campaign finance reports. In particular a 2014 second quarter (Q2) report has an unexplained $9,324.97 downward revision of the election cycle total from the previous quarter for Contributions to Candidates/ Political Committees and corresponding upward revisions of election cycle totals for Operating Expenditures and for Loan Repayments. This appears to suggest adjustments made to reconcile unrecorded payments.
The loan repayments are the most egregious. The apparent overpayments began in the second quarter of 2016, but anomalies had begun before that. Campaign finance documents are required to show payment amounts towards specific loans, and running totals showing outstanding loans. 16 of the 17 loans are clearly documented. One in the amount of $268.88 is simply a line item on the 2016 Q2 Summary.
The bottom line is, Hise has been diddling his books for a few years now to conceal campaign finance irregularities, an acquired skill that takes advantage of a system not staffed or prepared to deeply investigate financial shenanigans like this. Thank goodness for Greg Flynn...