The most expensive campaign in Wake County school board history is leading to a flurry of ads and charges.
As noted in today's article, reports on file show $385,909 has been raised so far by the candidates and other groups. But the number is actually far higher because many groups don't have to file yet or have only filed partial reports.
For instance, the $385,909 doesn't include the political parties and all the 501 groups and 527 groups. By the time all the numbers come in, the amount raised should easily exceed $500,000.
But some more information is steadily coming forward. For instance, the N.C. Association of Educators acknowledges it's funded several of the groups sending out mailers, including the N.C. Futures Action Fund and the N.C. Citizens for Protecting Our Schools.
“We certainly support efforts to have a school board that is more reflective of a community that supports public education,” said NCAE Executive Director Scott Anderson.
School board member Chris Malone criticized the groups.
“The education establishment seems to think only people who believe like they do should be on the school board,” Malone said. “I don’t think the public agrees with that.”
In some cases, we'll get more info at the end of the month on donors and spending amounts. In others, we won't know until next year when IRS returns are filed.
Groups are taking advantage of their right not disclose donors until they have to do so.
"We are following the rules of the road and the letter of the law just like other groups," said Gerrick Brenner, executive director of Progress NC Action about not identifying the group's donors.
Critics of the board majority have spent much of the last two years accusing Art Pope of having bought the 2009 school board elections.
"It's not Art Poe trying to buy the election," quipped Francis DeLuca, executive director of the conservative Civitas Action. "It's Dean Debnam."
Debnam, who did not return calls or emails for the story, is playing a pretty big role in the school board elections. He's head of the N.C. Futures Action Fund, which is funding mailers and apparently buying TV ads.
Debnam has been raising money for the Wake County Democratic Party too.
With all the money comes ads that candidates and groups are grumbling about.
For instance, Margiotta argues the various ads from the 501 and 527 groups are inaccurate when they link him to the Tea Party and accuse him of risking $80 million in federal funding.
Wake County Democratic Party Chairman Mack Paul likened the Margiotta mailers to the controversial race-tinged ads used by the late U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.
“Republicans have a long history of trying to raise racial implications and this is consistent with that,” Paul said.