CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – We’re less than two weeks from the Charlotte City Council Primary and James “Smuggie” Mitchell has finally filed his required campaign finance reports, despite most of them being a couple years late.
Mitchell is a former Charlotte City Councilman who resigned in January of 2021 due to a conflict of interest, now he’s running for his old At-Large seat.
When Queen City News first reached out to Mitchell, and asked why he had not filed a single campaign finance report in three years, he said it was an honest mistake, and he would have them filed by the end of that week. That interview happened in March and not a single report had been filed.
QCN gave Mitchell a few more weeks to file the missing reports before pursuing another story. After a month went by and nothing was filed, we reached out to him again, with the same question: Why haven’t you filed a single campaign finance report in almost three years? Mitchell gave the same answer, he said he would have them filed within the next couple of days.
As of Friday, it’s been a month and a half since QCN started asking Mitchell these questions, and right before 5:00 pm on Friday, he filed his five missing campaign finance reports.
Tracy Marshall, Executive Director of Transparency USA, explained the importance of filing campaign finance reports.
“All candidates and elected officials, and actually active political action committees, in the state have to file with the North Carolina State Board of Elections, these reports on their campaign finance, they have to show all the donations, all the money coming in, and then in turn, they have to show how they’ve spent that money. So, the idea is to help hold politicians accountable and to give citizens an idea so they can keep an eye out, if you will, on the money flowing through governments, ”Marshall explained.
Marshall said she found it odd a politician with as many years of experience as Mitchell could make such a huge mistake.
“I would just say that it’s rare for an active politician not to have filed reports for that long. We follow state level campaign finance in a number of key states across the nation, and I will say for an active politician to not have reports on file for three years is very rare. So, I think it’s worth asking questions for sure, ”Marshall said.
QCN reached out to the State Board of Elections Office, and they said Mitchell failed to file five different campaign finance reports since July of 2019. Some of the reports were from when Mitchell was still in office, prior to resigning, and some were from this campaign season.
As for the Mitchell fines could potentially accrue, they could be upwards of $ 2,000. North Carolina law doesn’t have any other consequences, other than fines, so even if Mitchell never disclosed where his campaign money came from, he could still stay on the ballot.