NC elections board certifies the No Labels Party despite questions about its link to a dark money group

By: - August 13, 2023 10:00 pm

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The state Board of Elections voted 4-1 to certify No Labels as a political party despite board members’ questions about its connections to a Washington group that does not reveal its donors’ identities.

The national group No Labels has said it may offer a  presidential ticket in 2024, but is waiting until after Super Tuesday 2024 to decide.

The state board’s decision means if No Labels has a presidential ticket next year, it will appear on the North Carolina ballot.  

Nationally, Democrats are worried that a third party candidate will siphon votes from President Joe Biden, giving former President Donald Trump a path to retake the office, media outlets have reported.  

North Carolina elections board members on Sunday grilled Bob Orr, the lawyer for North Carolina No Labels, about the connection the state party would have to the national group. 

The national group is classified as a social welfare organization, called a 501(c)(4) for its designation under the federal tax code. It is not required to reveal its donors.  Its CEO, Nancy Jacobson, said in an NBC interview that No Labels is not a political party.

Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is a national No Labels co-chairman, along with former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan and Benjamin Chavis, president and CRO of the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a trade association for Black-owned newspapers. 

Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice, told the board that the No Labels in North Carolina would follow laws required of political parties. He could not describe the relationship between the North Carolina party and the national group. The important consideration for the board, he said, was that No Labels had collected enough petition signatures to be certified as a party.  

“We have met the requirements of the law and have every right to have this petition certified,” Orr told them. 

Board Chairman Alan Hirsch pointed out that nearly all contributions to the No Labels Party of North Carolina came from out-of-state donors who contributed maximum amounts. No Labels of North Carolina spent nearly all of the money it raised last year on a campaign consulting group based in Northern Virginia. 

“The concern is that there really is no North Carolina No Labels Party. This is an operation of the federal 501(c)4 non-political party,” Hirsch said. 

Hirsch voted reluctantly to certify No Labels, along with three other members. 

“It’s troubling to find an organization that seems to be hiding the ball so completely,” he said.

Siobhan Millen cast the sole vote against certifying No Labels, saying there is conflicting information as to whether it was a political party or not, and unanswered questions about what petition signers were told.

“It seems to me that North Carolina law does not adequately address this novel situation where a top-down group wants to secure a ballot line in one race, one election, instead of becoming an ongoing party with a distinctive political character,” she said.

In addition to the two major parties, North Carolina recognizes the Libertarian Party and the Green Party.

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Lynn Bonner
Lynn Bonner

Investigative Reporter Lynn Bonner covers the state legislature and politics, as well as elections, the state budget, public and mental health, safety net programs and issues of racial equality.