Watchdog Releases Report Revealing North Carolina Lawmaker Jason Saine Introduces Bills to Benefit Campaign Donors
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 25, 2019
Contact: Bryan Dewan, email@example.com, 202.780.5750
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Campaign for Accountability (CfA), a nonprofit watchdog group focused on public accountability, released a new report, Jason Saine: Hired Gun, revealing that North Carolina State Representative Jason Saine– one of the top fundraisers in the North Carolina legislature – appears to have repeatedly introduced favorable legislation for the benefit of his campaign donors. CfA’s report details nine previously unreported examples of Rep. Saine’s apparent pay-to-play behavior, which in turn provided him with campaign cash he used to fund an extravagant, high-flying lifestyle.
CfA Executive Director Daniel E. Stevens said, “While many legislators accept campaign contributions from the industries they oversee, the extent to which Rep. Saine appears to have worked for the benefit of his donors is particularly troublesome. It sure looks like Rep. Saine is selling legislative favors to the highest bidder, all while spending his campaign cash on expensive restaurants, luxury hotels, tailored suits, and out-of-state travel. Rep. Saine’s behavior ultimately raises serious questions about whether he is acting in the public interest or in the interest of his campaign donors.”
Rep. Saine has served in the North Carolina House of Representatives since 2011 and represents House district 97. In 2018, Rep. Saine served as the national chairman of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has been called “a conservative group backed by corporations that proposes model legislation for state legislators to introduce.”
Since his appointment to the General Assembly in 2011, Rep. Saine has raised at least $784,600 in campaign contributions from a wide variety of special interest groups. CfA’s analysis of Rep. Saine’s contributions unearthed a pattern of Rep. Saine accepting campaign contributions from certain industries and then introducing narrowly-tailored bills to benefit those industries, several of which became law.
For instance, Rep. Saine received $23,000 from the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and introduced a bill that would have restricted the state’s ability to tax the tribe as well as recognizing the tribe’s “exclusive authority… to levy taxes within its jurisdiction.” The bill was eventually signed into law. In another instance, Rep. Saine accepted $11,000 in campaign donations from the founder of a charter school network and subsequently introduced a bill to allow three charter schools in the donor’s network to participate in a state health plan reserved for public school teachers and state employees. The bill passed the North Carolina House but died in the Senate.
Notably, Rep. Saine has used this campaign cash to support a lavish lifestyle, spending tens of thousands of dollars on food, hotels, airfare, rental cars, and expensive clothing. Much of his extravagant campaign spending occurs outside North Carolina and does not appear to be directly connected to legitimate campaign activity. Some of his most eye-catching campaign expenses include a stay at the Westin in Stamford, Connecticut ($1,247.16), meals and club fees at the City Club Raleigh (totaling $7,857.29), and more than $19,000 on clothes and tailored suits.
Mr. Stevens continued, “Public officials should introduce legislation for the benefit of the public interest. When public officials support legislation to narrowly benefit their donors and use this donor money to fund a luxurious lifestyle, it erodes confidence in our institutions. This type of behavior is unacceptable, and the residents of North Carolina deserve better.”
Campaign for Accountability is a nonpartisan, nonprofit watchdog organization that uses research, litigation, and aggressive communications to expose misconduct and malfeasance in public life and hold those who act at the expense of the public good accountable for their actions.