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Jones files complaint against Dacey campaign

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Congressman Walter Jones, center, celebrates after his win at the Hampton Inn on May 8, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)


By Ginger Livingston
The Daily Reflector

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

U.S. Rep. Walter Jones filed a complaint with the state elections board last week, alleging a primary opponent knowingly spread false information about his campaign donations.

Jones alleges that the Scott Dacey Committee, which represented one of two Republicans who challenged him in the May primary, spread false reports claiming Jones, a conservative Republican, received campaign donations from liberal political activist George Soros.

Jones legal adviser said state statute makes in unlawful for someone to publish or circulate “derogatory reports with reference to any candidate in any primary or election, knowing such a report to be false or in reckless disregard of its truth of falsity when such report is calculated or intended to affect the chances of such candidate for nomination or election.”

The complaint asks that the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to find probable cause and refer the cause to the Wake County District Attorney for further action.

Elections board spokesman Patrick Gannon confirmed Tuesday the complaint is being reviewed but offered no details about when any action might be taken.

Efforts to reach a Dacey representative were unsuccessful.

Jones, who faces no Democratic Party opponent in November’s general election, said he is pursuing the complaint because candidate should be “accountable for knowingly spreading falsehoods in hopes of garnering votes.

“I am not naive to the rigors of political campaigning; however, truth and integrity must never be compromised,” Jones said in a news release. “Citizens should feel confident that the information that is being presented to them by a candidate is factual and if that candidate knowing distributes falsehoods that they will be held criminally accountable.”

Jones, who announced his plans to not seek re-election in 2020, said he also plans to introduce in Congress a bill to toughen laws governing campaign advertising so candidates are accountable for “knowingly spreading falsehoods in hopes of garnering votes.”

The Dacey campaign released advertising in early April that accused Jones of accepting about $80,000 from Soros through donors linked to a group called “Friends of Democracy. The advertisements stated that the donations were credit card payments processed by a company called Democracy Engine.

The Jones campaign said Democracy Engine did process some credit card payments but none were from Soros supporters.

The Jones campaign said the only “Friends of Democracy” donation it received was a $1 contribution made by Ryan Kane. Kane was the media and digital director for the Dacey Campaign. The Jones campaign didn’t accept the $1 donation, according to Tuesday’s news release.

The Jones campaign sent Dacey a cease and desist order in April, saying the ads violated state law. The ads continued to run.

Jones was in a three-way primary race with Dacey and Phil Law, a former U.S. Marine who now works in information technology management. Jones received 20,963 votes to Law’s 14,343 votes and Dacey’s 13,421 votes.

Jones said while the Dacey ad made national news, he felt lucky to represent a constituency who knew him and his stances.

“The good people of eastern North Carolina immediately recognized the ad as a fabrication,” Jones said. “I am now taking action to try to prevent this type of unethical activity from affecting the outcome of another election where the candidate might not be so fortunate.”