Senate President Phil Berger (R-Rockingham Co.) is defending himself against a State Board of Elections complaint filed against him which exposes how Berger has been using political campaign contributions to pay the mortgage on his Raleigh townhome. Berger claims the SBE has twice approved his campaign making the regular mortgage payments. But only Berger and another Republican, Tim Moore, the Speaker of the NC House, have used campaign money to make mortgage payments on property they own.
- The SBE complaint was filed by long-time good government watchdog Bob Hall, who founded DemocracyNC. Hall has a track record of exposing campaign finance abuses of both Republicans AND Democrats.
- Berger bought the townhome in 2016 for $250,000 and his campaign has funneled at least $55,000 to mortgage payments through a limited liability company (LLC) that Berger also manages.
- Berger’s campaign is making year-round mortgage payments on the townhome he owns even as Berger’s main residence is in Eden north of Greensboro and the NC General Assembly is a part-time legislature.
- Berger’s campaign has also paid Berger over $100,000 in rent at his Eden law office. Altogether, Berger’s campaign pays Berger $3,000 / month for “rent” at his law office and his Raleigh townhome.
- Berger is profiting from his campaign by using his donors’ money to acquire an asset worth $250,000.
- Berger’s campaign is essentially paying Berger’s mortgage, which allows Berger to convert campaign donations to personal profit.
- The rent Berger’s campaign is paying to Berger for office space in Berger’s home town is also odd, because Berger is also claiming per diem payments from the state for 200 days of work in Raleigh. Berger’s campaign is making monthly office rent payments to Berger, while Berger is billing taxpayers for most work days in Raleigh.
- If the SBE is going to allow Berger and Moore to use campaign donations to make mortgage payments, state lawmakers across North Carolina are likely to start treating their campaign accounts as piggy banks to invest in personal real estate.