Former Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson, current Commissioner Kay Cashion and some Pleasant Garden residents known as the “Pleasant Guardians” are waiting to find out what – if anything – comes next after state election officials conclude an investigation of a complaint Branson filed after he lost in the November election.
Branson a Republican who lost the at-large Board of Commissioners race to Guilford County Commissioner Kay Cashion in November, filed the complaint several days after the election – protesting the participation of a limited liability corporation (LLC). The complaint, filed with both the Guilford County Board of Elections and the NC Board of Elections, alleged that Pleasant Guardians LLC had violated state election laws in its support of Cashion.
In the election, Cashion collected 58 percent of the vote to Branson’s 42 percent.
Branson said that the Pleasant Guardians group, formed earlier this year, paid for and put up political signs and provided Cashion other support without registering with the Guilford County Board of Elections or the state board.
The group, centered out of Pleasant Garden, posted signs that said “Paid for by the Pleasant Guardians” 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 also said he was concerned Cashion was coordinating with the LLC., which, he said, would be in violation of election laws.
When the Rhino Times asked Cashion recently about the issue, Cashion displayed a wry smile – an indication that she sees this is an utterly pointless and unwarranted complaint.
Cashion said it was ridiculous to think that she had done something wrong just because a group in Pleasant Garden supported her and other candidates who defended the town’s interest five years ago. She said there was zero coordination between the LLC and her campaign.
Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said this week that since Branson’s complaint is a campaign finance complaint, it is handled by the state board.
“It’s in the State Board of Elections’ hands at this point,” Collicutt said. “That is the statutory jurisdiction for those investigations.”
When Branson saw the signs in late October, he immediately phoned Collicutt to discuss his concerns.
Branson has said that, given the number of votes by which he was defeated, he knows this isn’t something that would have affected the outcome of the election – but he added that he would like to see appropriate fines levied if state campaign finance laws were in fact violated.