The Guilford County Board of Elections has received a formal request for an investigation into irregularities in the way the $1.7 billion bond and the quarter cent sales tax increase referendums are being promoted by Guilford County.
The letter from attorney Chuck Winfree with Adams & Winfree is on behalf of former Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson, who is a Republican candidate for the at-large seat on the Board of Commissioners.
North Carolina General Statute 153A-456 states, “A county shall not use public funds to endorse or oppose a referendum, election or a particular candidate for elective office.”
The county can provide informational material and individual commissioners are of course free to say whatever they want about referendums.
Winfree states that it appears, “Guilford County is expending taxpayer funds and other government resources to promote a viewpoint favoring the passage of both referenda.” Winfree notes that there is a link on the official Guilford County website that directs people to “information” about the school bond and, “This link presents the viewer with an entirely unbalanced discussion of the bond, accentuating the needs and downplaying the costs of the bond. There is no discussion of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the County will be obligated to pay in interest and other costs associated with the issuance of the bonds.”
Winfree also states that he has been informed that a mailing promoting the bonds was “apparently” sent out by Guilford County and that he had been told that school principals held mandatory meetings with teachers to direct them to work for the passage of the bonds.
Winfree asks that the bond counsel be notified over the concerns expressed because “my client is concerned that bonds issued pursuant to any resulting bond order would be subject to collateral attack.”
The letter was also sent to the North Carolina Board of Elections, the NC state treasurer and the North Carolina state auditor.