Senate Dems walk out on bill allowing unlimited outside funding for North Carolina campaigns

Senate Republicans passed a measure to allow federal political organizations to pour unlimited funding into North Carolina state campaigns by tacking the language onto a controversial mask-ban bill.

The bill passed 28-0 as Democrats fled the chamber in protest.

Section five of House Bill 237 says “it shall be permissible for a federal political committee, as defined by committee organized pursuant to the Federal Election Campaign Act and its regulations adopted pursuant thereto, to make contributions to a North Carolina candidate or political committee” and eliminates limits on those contributions.

Democrats immediately assailed the move as an invitation for wealthy out-of-state donors to influence North Carolina elections.

“This new campaign finance legislation has never been seen before, but Republicans have attached it to an unrelated conference report that cannot be amended. This eviscerates individual campaign finance limits and allows billionaires from out of state to funnel unlimited money into a committee,” said House Democratic Leader Robert Reives.

“They are changing the rules in the middle of an election that is already underway in an attempt to buy the governor’s mansion in North Carolina.”

Sen. Michael Garrett, a Democrat representing Guilford County, accused Republican colleagues of “political money laundering” during a press conference following the Senate’s vote.

Democrats walked out on the vote because it “literally allows felons and millionaires to buy our coming election,” Sen. Jay Chaudhuri, representing Raleigh, wrote on X. “We walked out today because it’s critical we shine a light in a dark of night rushed process that will undermine our democratic process.”

Democrats were informed Thursday morning that a change to campaign finance law would be considered on the Senate floor, Chaudhuri said. “It’s no coincidence that such a rule change would be passed 2 days after ads about Mark Robinson’s extreme position starting running.”

Though second-quarter campaign finance reports are not due until July 10, first-quarter reports show Democrat Attorney General Josh Stein far outraising Republican Lt. Governor Mark Robinson in the race for Governor. 

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