Campaign Finance Audits and Investigations
Auditing Campaign Finance Reports
Each disclosure report filed with the State Board of Elections by a candidate committee, political party, political action committee, referendum committee, or other entity must be examined to determine whether the statement conforms to North Carolina law and to the truth. N.C.G.S. § 163-278.23 and N.C.G.S. § 163-278.24. These examinations, often referred to as audits, are performed by State Board auditors.
Like all State Board employees, auditors are subject to N.C.G.S. § 163-39 (limiting certain political activities). Auditors examine reports for compliance with Chapter 163 of the North Carolina General Statutes as well as all rules adopted by the State Board. Findings are shared with the entity, and with the public, to provide guidance and transparency regarding political spending in North Carolina.
The State Board of Elections adopted a Campaign Finance Examination Policy (PDF) on November 23, 2021. The policy outlines the policies and procedures used by staff in conducting examinations.
Campaign Finance Investigations
The State Board of Elections may investigate potential violations of Chapter 163, Article 22A (regarding contributions and expenditures in political campaigns) and Chapter 163, Article 22M (legal expense funds).
North Carolina registered voters may submit a complaint reporting a potential violation of North Carolina’s campaign finance laws. All complaints must be in writing and must be signed and sworn under oath or affirmation. Complaints must be submitted to the State Board of Elections. Registered voters may use the Campaign Finance Complaint form (PDF) to submit a complaint.
The State Board of Elections will notify any individual, candidate, treasurer, political committee, referendum committee, or other entity against whom allegations are made that a complaint has been filed and provide a complete copy of the complaint and all attachments to the complaint. The individual or entity receiving the notice will be given an opportunity to submit a written response to the complaint.
All campaign finance investigations are confidential. This includes the complaint, any response received from the individual or entity under investigation, and any information or materials generated or gathered by the State Board during the investigation. No investigation may be initiated more than four years from the earliest of the following dates:
- The date the facts constituting the violation are known to the State Board or county board with jurisdiction.
- The date the facts constituting the violation can be determined from the public record.
- The date the complainant knew or should have known of the conduct upon which the complaint is based.
The State Board of Elections adopted a Campaign Finance Complaint Policy (PDF) on December 20, 2019. The policy outlines the policies and procedures used by staff to review and advance written complaints received by the agency or investigations initiated by the agency.
Violations may result in civil penalties, public reprimands, or other civil remedies. Certain violations may also be referred to criminal prosecutors.