Former Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson, a Republican who lost the at-large Board of Commissioners race in the Tuesday, Nov. 8 election, has filed a complaint protesting the participation of a limited liability corporation (LLC) in the election.
Branson filed the complaint with Guilford County Board of Elections and the NC Board of Elections alleging that the Pleasant Guardians LLC had violated state election laws in its support of his opponent.
Branson lost to incumbent Democratic At-large Commissioner Kay Cashion, who collected 58 percent of the vote to Branson’s 42 percent.
Branson said this week that the Pleasant Guardians, formed earlier this year, procured and put up political signs and provided Cashion other support without registering with the Guilford County Board of Elections or with the state board.
Branson also said that he wanted to know when Cashion found out about the Pleasant Guardians and be assured that she wasn’t working with the organization.
The group, centered out of Pleasant Garden, posted signs with “Paid for by the Pleasant Guardians” on them at an early voting spot at the town hall and in other places around the county. The signs supported Cashion and other candidates who in 2017 had opposed a rezoning that would have allowed a rock quarry near Pleasant Garden.
Branson said the opposition against him from some in the town goes back to that fight when the Guilford County Board of Commissioners debated the quarry issue. Branson recused himself from the issue because his trucking company worked with the company proposing the plan, and, even though he didn’t participate in the decision, many saw him as a quarry advocate.
Branson told the Rhino Times this week that he believes the Pleasant Guardians acted outside the bounds of election law.
“One question I have for Kay is: When did she find out about it?” he said.
He also said that the first signs went up on or about Saturday, Oct. 22 and he saw them soon after. He said he did some research and discovered that the Pleasant Guardians hadn’t filed the requisite paperwork with county or state elections officials.
Branson said he immediately phoned Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt to discuss his concerns.
This week, Branson filed his protests with the county and state elections boards.
He said that, given the margin of the Cashion’s victory, he doesn’t believe the Pleasant Guardians cost him the seat. (In fact, Branson won the Pleasant Garden precincts.) However, he added, the matter needs to be investigated and he would like to see appropriate fines levied if state campaign finance laws were violated.
Branson is no newbie to lodging components with the elections boards. He fought a very close race that cost him his commissioners seat two years ago, and he also filed a protest arguing that Guilford County had used taxpayer funds illegally to promote the passage of the $1.7 billion school bond referendum on the ballot earlier this year.