RALEIGH — A North Carolina House candidate’s recent fundraiser featuring North Carolina First Lady Kristin Cooper apparently violated town rules that she approved while serving on the Holly Springs Town Council.
Democratic House District 37 candidate Christine Kelly held a campaign fundraising event at Bass Lake Park in the Town of Holly Springs.
“There’s still time to RSVP to my fundraising event this Wednesday evening with Kristin Cooper, First Lady of North Carolina! You’ll have the opportunity to hear from the both of us about how important this race is and make community with fellow supporters here in beautiful Holly Springs,” Kelly posted to her official campaign Facebook page on Sept. 12.
The event was also apparently “ticketed” with prices ranging from $30 all the way up to $5,600 each.
In a follow-up Facebook post on Sept. 15, Kelly wrote about the fundraiser noting Cooper’s attendance and included pictures from the Bass Lake Park venue.
The event held by Kelly presents an issue as town policy prohibits political fundraising on town property and she was aware of the policy having participated in approving it in 2021.
Policy P-048, titled Political Activities on Town Property, was discussed on Feb. 19 and Apr. 13 of 2021 during town council workshops and meetings.
Section I of that policy reads, “The rental of Town facilities and outdoor space for political fund-raising events (such as pay for attendance or financial solicitation through the event) is not permitted.”
The final version of the policy was adopted on May 4, 2021. Video of the meeting shows Kelly was the council member who made the motion to pass the policy.
In addition to prior knowledge of the policy, venue rental agreement paperwork reviewed by North State Journal shows Kelly’s initials next to the line item outlining Policy P-048.
North State Journal received the following statement from the town via Cassie Hack Director of Communications and Marketing for Holly Springs:
“According to Town Council’s Political Activity on Town Property policy, “The rental of Town facilities and outdoor space for political fundraising events (such as pay for attendance or financial solicitation through the event) is not permitted.” If attendees paid to attend the political event or provided a donation through the event, that would not be in compliance with the policy.”
Kelly is challenging incumbent Rep. Erin Paré (R-Wake) who unseated Democrat Sydney Batch by close to 2,300 votes in 2020.
Batch was later appointed to the N.C. Senate for District 17 in January 2021 by Gov. Roy Cooper following the abrupt resignation of Sam Searcy who had just been reelected to the seat in November 2020.
Prior to her current campaign, Kelly ran unsuccessfully to become mayor of Holly Springs in 2020, losing to Sean Mayefskie who took in over 60% of the vote.
In a statement to North State Journal, Paré called the incident “outrageous” and “deliberately dishonest.”
“Lying on an application to get access to a Town facility for an illegal purpose is outrageous behavior by my opponent Ms. Kelly,” said Paré. “We can all see that being deliberately dishonest in order to advance herself politically is now a trend with Christine Kelly.”
Paré added, “This “Rules for thee, but not for me” attitude is exactly what’s wrong with politics these days. There’s no question – Christine Kelly is not fit to represent the people of southern Wake in the General Assembly or anywhere, period.”
Kelly’s campaign has not yet responded to a request for comment.