Kim Westbrook Strach, deputy director for campaign finance at the NC Board of Elections, said a website by the No Restaurant Tax group does not cross the line into electioneering, and the group will not be required to register as a political committee or place a legend on paid advertising disclosing who paid for the material and placement.
For what it’s worth, YES! Weekly’s editorial this week addresses the group’s message. Our paper this week also includes an advertisement for the No Restaurant Tax website on the cover.
Strach said the board of elections looked at the website based on a request for clarification by the Rhinoceros Times.
Were the issue of a restaurant tax on the ballot as a referendum, Strach said the No Restaurant Tax would be required to file as a political committee, document money raised and spent and disclose its identity on campaign materials. That’s not the case here.
Also, the board of elections determined that the website does not go so far as to support or oppose candidates, notwithstanding color coding that uses green to indicate candidates opposed to the hypothetical tax and red to indicate those in favor of it. The website merely encourages people to e-mail candidates about the issue. To meet the statutory definition of electioneering and trigger the requirement to register as a political committee, the website would have to go a step further and advocate that people vote for or against candidates.