02/06/11 — Former Sen. Davis files suit against Sen. Pate over TV ads

View Archive

Former Sen. Davis files suit against Sen. Pate over TV ads

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on February 6, 2011 1:50 AM

Former Democratic state Sen. Don Davis of Snow Hill and two of his former colleagues have filed suits against their November opponents and the state Republican Party, alleging that a GOP committee paid for campaign advertising that individual candidates claimed as their own.

Neither Davis or Jeff Carmon, the attorney representing the three -- including Margaret Dickson of Fayetteville and Joe Sam Queen of Waynesville -- would specify which advertisement by Sen. Louis Pate, R-Wayne, they were taking issue with, only that they were a series of television ads, worth at least $102,179.39.

According to the complaint, filed in Greene County Superior Court on Jan. 28, the ads had the disclaimer that they were "Paid for by the Louis Pate Election Committee."

Individual candidates are charged the lowest rate for ads run in the two months before the election.

However, the complaint alleges that the advertisements were actually paid for by the North Carolina Republican Executive Committee -- a violation of a state election laws designed to provide transparency, and "misleading to the voters of the district," according to the letter delivered via certified mail to Pate notifying him of the suit.

The suit also alleges that the ads continued even after the defendants were notified by the plaintiffs in October 2010 that their ads were in violation.

And so with Davis deferring comment to his attorney, Carmon, with C.W. Law Group in Durham, explained that the decision to bring the suit was made because "it's the only remedy we have under state statute."

And if eventually found in Davis' favor, Pate and his campaign could be required to pay actual damages in the total amount of television and radio advertising time aired in violation of state statutes, as well as for all attorney's fees.

Pate, who said he was aware of the suit, declined to comment, saying that he hasn't had an opportunity to talk to his attorney about it yet.

A state Republican Party spokesman said the party's lawyers also are reviewing the suit.

The three plaintiffs claim their races are among 10 Senate races in the state -- Districts 5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 19, 24, 45, 47 and 50 -- that this occurred. Pate and Davis are in the 5th Senate District.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.