NC Senate Leader Says Lease Transactions Lawful

Nov 6, 2019

NC Sen. Phil Berger
Credit http://www.ncleg.net/

State Senate Leader Phil Berger is using campaign funds to pay for a townhouse he and his wife are leasing in Raleigh.

The central question here is whether or not that is legal. Berger’s campaign staff says it is, and that they have twice received approval from the state Board of Elections. Still, campaign finance watchdog Bob Hall filed a complaint with the board Wednesday morning.

Hall's complaint says the house was purchased in 2016. Berger's campaign has been making $1,500 monthly payments to a firm that Phil Berger manages.

"What he’s doing is he’s using his campaign money to buy an asset, to buy a house,” Hall said. “It’s one thing to rent an apartment while you’re in Raleigh as a legislator. But he’s actually accumulating an asset that his campaign has paid for, and I think that’s illegal."

Hall is calling for an investigation. Republicans quickly called the claim a non-issue.

Berger's campaign said then-board Executive Director Kim Strach approved the practice in 2016 and it was reaffirmed in the spring. State law allows campaign money be used for expenses resulting from running for or holding office.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.