Legal Library

STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA
COUNTY OF WAKE

IN THE GENERAL COURT OF JUSTICE
SUPERIOR COURT DIVISION
Case No: 99 CVS 13020

Randy B. Royal, Edwin Booth, Owen
Burney, Jr., Ed Carter, Gary Grant, Aileen
Ford, William Harper, Mary Jo Loftin,
Daniel Mallison, Gary Phillips, Fannie
Walden, Daniel Johnson Willis, the North
Carolina State Conference of NAACP
Branches, North Carolina Fair Share, the
Concerned Citizens of Tillery, the North
Carolina Alliance for Democracy, the North
Carolina Waste Awareness Reduction
Network, Citizens for Responsible
Government of Guilford County, and the
North Carolina Consumers Council,

Plaintiffs,

v.

The State of North Carolina and
The North Carolina Board of Elections,

Defendants

AMENDED COMPLAINT

Plaintiffs, complaining of defendants, allege and say the following:

NATURE OF THIS ACTION

1. This action is brought pursuant to Article I, §§ 2, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 19, and 32, as well as Article II, §§ 6 and 7 and Article VI § 6, of the Constitution of the State of North Carolina for deprivation of Plaintiffs’ rights to an equal and meaningful vote, which includes the meaningful opportunity to participate in all integral aspects of the electoral process for North Carolina state legislative elections.

2. As voting citizens lacking access to substantial wealth, Plaintiffs are excluded from meaningful participation in the "wealth primary," that critical stage of the electoral process in which candidates must raise and spend substantial sums of money in order to mount viable campaigns for office. The campaign finance system for North Carolina state legislative elections is an integral part of the machinery employed, sanctioned, and ratified by the Defendants to constitute state government. The distinct and definable wealth primary process discriminates unlawfully against Plaintiffs’ exercise of their political rights on the basis of their economic status, convictions, and personal associations.

3. In the wealth primary, Defendants State of North Carolina and the North Carolina Board of Elections have established and sanctioned a de facto electoral requirement that candidates for state office amass substantial sums of money in order to participate meaningfully in elections for public office.

4. The burden of raising and spending ever-increasing sums of campaign money in order to participate meaningfully in electoral competition serves as a barrier to meaningful political participation for that substantial section of North Carolina’s citizenry who do not possess or have access to such wealth. This burden thus violates these citizens’ rights to equal protection of the law. This burden has also become an unconstitutional property qualification on the right to vote and to hold office. Furthermore, the burden violates the guarantees of free association and conscience contained in the North Carolina Constitution by effectively forcing prospective candidates who wish to mount a viable campaign to solicit money from entities whose interests are not aligned with their own, namely, wealthy individuals, parties, or political committees. Conversely, the burden confers special political privileges and emoluments on citizens and entities who do have wealth or access to wealth. By abridging the rights of citizens of modest means to participate meaningfully in the electoral process, the burden also violates the North Carolina Constitution’s guarantees of popular sovereignty, fair access to representation, and free elections.

5. Accordingly, North Carolina’s ongoing ratification of the results of elections, in which only those persons who raise and spend substantial sums of money can meaningfully compete, violates the North Carolina Constitution’s fundamental guarantees of equal protection of the law, freedom from property qualifications on the right to vote and hold office, freedom of conscience, popular political sovereignty, fair access to representation, and free elections.

PARTIES

Plaintiffs

6. Plaintiff Edwin Booth resides and is registered to vote in Beaufort County.

7. Plaintiff Owen Burney, Jr. resides in Greenville and is registered to vote in Pitt County.

8. Plaintiff Ed Carter is a former Mayor of Greenville and a former candidate for North Carolina Senate District 6 and House District 8. Mr. Carter resides and is registered to vote in Pitt County. Mr. Carter intends to run again for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly.

9. Plaintiff Gary Grant is a former member of the Halifax County School Board and a lifetime resident of the town of Tillery. Mr. Grant resides and is registered to vote in Halifax County. Mr. Grant is contemplating a campaign for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly.

10. Plaintiff Aileen Ford is a former member of the Shelby City Council and former candidate for the North Carolina State House District 48. A lifelong resident of Shelby, Ms. Ford is registered to vote in Cleveland County. Ms. Ford intends to run again for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly.

11. Plaintiff William Harper is a former candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives for District 3. Mr. Harper resides and is registered to vote in Craven County. Mr. Harper intends to run again for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly.

12. Plaintiff Mary Jo Loftin is a former candidate for Senate District 5. Ms. Loftin resides in Mt. Olive and is registered to vote in Duplin County. Ms. Loftin is contemplating another campaign for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly.

13. Plaintiff Daniel Mallison is a former candidate for the North Carolina House of Representatives for District 2. Mr. Mallison resides and is registered to vote in Beaufort County. Mr. Mallison intends to run again for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly.

14. Plaintiff Gary Phillips is on the Board of Commissioners for Chatham County, where he resides and is registered to vote. Mr. Phillips is contemplating a campaign for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly.

15. Plaintiff Randy B. Royal resides in Greenville and is registered to vote in Pitt County.

16. Plaintiff Fannie Walden is a resident of Clarkton and is registered to vote in Columbus County.

17. Plaintiff Daniel Johnson Willis resides in Trenton and is registered to vote in Jones County.

18. Plaintiff North Carolina State Conference of NAACP Branches (hereinafter, "North Carolina NAACP") is a non-profit organization of over 10,000 members. Almost all of its adult members are registered voters in the State of North Carolina.

19. Plaintiff North Carolina Alliance for Democracy (hereinafter, "NCAD") is a non-partisan, non-profit grassroots coalition of organizations and individuals from across North Carolina. NCAD comprises both statewide, regional, and local organizations whose cumulative membership exceeds 5,000. Almost all of NCAD’s adult members are registered voters in the State of North Carolina.

20. Plaintiff North Carolina Fair Share (hereinafter, "NC Fair Share") is a non-partisan, non-profit membership, advocacy, and leadership development organization comprised almost entirely of non-wealthy citizens. Almost all of its approximately 450 adult members are registered voters in the State of North Carolina.

21. Plaintiff North Carolina Consumers Council (hereinafter, "NCCC") is a statewide membership and advocacy organization with headquarters in Raleigh. Almost all of its approximately 250 adult members are registered voters in the State of North Carolina.

22. Plaintiff Concerned Citizens of Tillery (hereinafter, "CCT") is a membership and advocacy association of approximately 1,500 residents of the New Deal resettlement community known as Tillery, North Carolina. Almost all of its adult members are registered voters in the State of North Carolina.

23. Plaintiff Citizens for Responsible Government of Guilford County (hereinafter, "CRG") is a non-partisan association that advocates for participatory democracy in North Carolina. All of its membership of approximately 75 persons are registered voters in the State of North Carolina.

24. Plaintiff North Carolina Waste Awareness Reduction Network (hereinafter, "NC WARN") is a non-profit, non-partisan environmental health advocacy organization with headquarters in Durham. Almost all of its adult membership of over 500 persons are registered voters in the State of North Carolina.

Defendants

25. Defendant State of North of Carolina (hereinafter, "North Carolina") comprises the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government empowered by the North Carolina Constitution to adopt and enforce laws on behalf, and under the direction, of the people of North Carolina. Pursuant to the North Carolina Constitution, the State of North Carolina regulates, conducts, and ratifies the results of periodic elections for public office. The electoral process organized by the State of North Carolina exclusively serves an unique and entirely public function, namely the just constitution of representative self-government.

26. Defendant North Carolina Board of Elections (hereinafter, the "BOE") is an independent regulatory and quasi-judicial agency created pursuant to the Election Law of North Carolina, see N.C. Gen. Stat. §§ 163.19-163.28, to implement and supervise elections within the state. Among many other duties related to the regulation of elections, the BOE tabulates election results and declares the winners of all races for the North Carolina General Assembly.

JURISDICTION AND VENUE

27. This Court has jurisdiction over the subject matter of this action pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7A-245(a)(4) and § 1-253 et seq. ("The Uniform Declaratory Judgment Act").

28. This Court has personal jurisdiction over defendants under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-75.4.

29. Pursuant to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-77.2 and § 1-82, as well as N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-22(l), venue is proper in the General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division for Wake County.

30. Plaintiffs have no statutory or other common law cause of action that would serve as an alternative remedy for the violations of constitutional rights alleged in this Complaint. Defendants accordingly have no immunity from suit for these constitutional violations.

CONSTITUTIONAL BASES FOR THIS ACTION

31. In its most fundamental provisions, the Constitution of North Carolina expressly guarantees the sovereign power of the people and the equality of all persons under the law. The Constitution’s Declaration of Rights provides, without exception or qualification, that "[a]ll political power is vested in and derived from the people; all government of right originates from the people, is founded upon their will only, and is instituted solely for the good of the whole," N.C. Const. art I, § 2, and that "[n]o person shall be denied equal protection of the laws," N.C. Const. art I, § 19.

32. These core guarantees unequivocally require the State to ensure that all citizens of North Carolina have an equal and meaningful opportunity to exercise their political rights in the process of constituting self-government. To advance these guarantees, the Constitution of North Carolina further mandates that each citizen’s participation in the process of constituting self-government be meaningful, fair, and free from any qualification based on wealth, providing that, "[f]or redress of grievances and for amending and strengthening the laws, elections shall be often held," N.C. Const. art. I, § 9, that "[a]ll elections shall be free," N.C. Const. art. I, § 10, and that, "[a]s political rights and privileges are not dependent upon or modified by property, no property qualification shall affect the right to vote or hold office." N.C. Const. art. I, § 11.

33. The State’s primary and ultimate responsibility to ensure the equal political liberties of its citizens suffuses the entire Constitution of North Carolina. From its chief intention that the "essential principles of liberty and free government may be recognized and established", N.C. Const. art. I, to the seminal observation that "all persons are created equal", N.C. Const. art. I, § 1, the Constitution abides no exception or qualification to the rule that "[t]he people of this State have the inherent, sole, and exclusive right of regulating the internal government and police thereof." N.C. Const. art. I, § 3.

34. In its numerous provisions reflecting the core commitment to popular democracy, the Constitution of North Carolina expressly forbids the establishment of a government that is not "derived from the people . . . and . . . instituted solely for the good of the whole." N.C. Const. art. I, § 2. The Constitution clearly requires that the State establish truly representative legislative bodies, constituted through fair electoral processes which are open to all. In adopting this Constitution, the people of North Carolina explicitly rejected prior constitutional provisions that denied the franchise to paupers and reserved high elective offices to substantial landowners. See, generally, John V. Orth, The North Carolina State Constitution: With History and Commentary (1995). In a similar vein, the Constitution of North Carolina expressly forbids "exclusive or separate emoluments or privileges from the community but in consideration of public service." N.C. Const. art I, § 32.

35. The Constitution of North Carolina reiterates the guarantees of popular sovereignty and meaningful access to representation in its detailed provisions related to General Assembly elections. In Article II, §§ 6 and 7, the Constitution lists the only legal qualifications on the right to hold state legislative office: that Senators be qualified voters, at least 25 years of age, who have resided for at least two years in the state and for one year in his or her district; and that Representatives be qualified voters who have resided in his or her district for at least one year. See N.C. Const. art. II, §§ 6 and 7. The only other constitutional constraints on eligibility for elective office are listed in Article VI, which disqualifies persons under the age of 21 years and felons.

36. The Constitution of North Carolina also explicitly guarantees the freedoms of conscience and association. The Constitution ensures all citizens’ right "to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances." N.C. Const. art. I, § 12. The Constitution also provides that "no human authority shall, in any case, whatever, control or interfere with the rights of conscience." N.C. Const. art. I, § 13. Accordingly, the Constitution imposes upon the State a duty to ensure that the process it employs to constitute state government does not impair its citizens’ freedoms of conscience and association.

37. The North Carolina Constitution, taken as a whole, guarantees the fundamental principles of political equality and the essential dignity of all persons, requiring that the State ensure each citizen’s equal and meaningful opportunity to participate in self-government. Moreover, the Constitution mandates that the State remain vigilant to all incursions upon basic personal and political liberties, providing that "[a] frequent recurrence to fundamental principles is absolutely necessary to preserve the blessings of liberty." N.C. Const. art. I, § 35.

FACTUAL ALLEGATIONS

Demographic Information

38. According to the 1990 Census, North Carolina had a total population of 6,628,637 and a voting age population of 5,020,144.

39. According to the 1990 Census, the per capita annual income in North Carolina was $12,885.

40. According to the 1990 Census, 80.8 percent of North Carolina households had household income less than $40,000 per year.

41. According to more recent U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the median household income in North Carolina in 1995 was $31,987.

42. According to the 1990 Census, 11.1% of the voting age population of North Carolina lived at or below the poverty level.

43. According to the U. S. Census Bureau, in 1995, 945,803 people, approximately 13.1 percent of North Carolina’s total population, lived at or below the poverty level.

44. Households with higher incomes generally have far more disposable income than households with lower incomes. As a household approaches the poverty line, its disposable income dwindles to nothing.

The Financing of North Carolina General Assembly Elections

45. To campaign meaningfully for a seat in the General Assembly, a candidate must raise and spend substantial sums of money. Without money, a candidate cannot effectively communicate with an electorally significant number of voters in his or her district. The requirement that candidates amass substantial amounts of money as a prerequisite to meaningful political participation amounts to a de facto "wealth primary", employed, sanctioned, and ratified by Defendants in the conduct of public elections.

46. Over the past four election cycles in North Carolina, from 1992 through 1998, the sums raised and spent in campaigns for the General Assembly have risen dramatically. The following table charts this growth in election spending through the full election cycle (primary and general elections) for winners in both chambers of the General Assembly:

House/Type of Election

Year

Median Spending by Winning Candidates in Opposed Elections

Average (Mean) Spending by Winning Candidates in Opposed Elections

House Full Cycle Spending

1992

$16,418

$21,568

1994

25,002

34,419

1996

34,004

47,543

1998

40,457

56,322

Senate Full Cycle Spending

1992

$26,740

$35,223

1994

31,363

43,466

1996

57,160

70,974

1998

125,619

113,518

47. A substantial amount of money is spent by winners throughout their campaigns, even in the early stage of primaries. The mean and median amounts spent by winners of contested primaries, set forth in the following table, have generally risen through recent election cycles:

House/Type of Election

Year

Median Spending by Winning Candidates

Average (Mean) Spending by Winning Candidates

House Contested Primary Spending

1992

$ 6,664

$ 10,488

1994

6,054

10,090

1996

8,379

12,368

1998

15,887

16,528

Senate Contested Primary Spending

1992

$11,624

$ 16,411

1994

11,146

24,617

1996

12,718

23,507

1998

14,018

16,001

48. Excluding the amounts spent in primary competition, the sums spent in general elections alone are consistently large. The mean and median amounts spent by winners of contested general elections, set forth in the following table, have also risen substantially through recent election cycles:

House/Type of Election

Year

Median Spending by Winning Candidates

Average (Mean) Spending by Winning Candidates

House Contested General Election Spending Only

1992

$ 12,076

$ 15,194

1994

20,961

30,423

1996

29,974

41,667

1998

34,464

49,559

Senate Contested General Election Spending Only

1992

$ 17,898

$ 24,396

1994

26,813

34,092

1996

52,475

56,635

1998

116,738

106,416

49. The median amounts spent by winners of contested elections suggest how much money has historically been required to mount a viable, competitive campaign for seats in the North Carolina General Assembly. Though spending at the levels suggested by the historical median figures does not guarantee a victory, the median sums spent by actual winners reliably approximate the actual sums needed to mount a competitive campaign for seats in the North Carolina General Assembly under the current system.

50. The figures in the preceding three tables quantify the wealth barrier to meaningful electoral participation in real dollar terms. Candidates who cannot amass campaign funds at the levels listed in those tables are unable to mount viable, competitive campaigns and are thus unable to participate meaningfully in the electoral process for North Carolina General Assembly seats, despite their qualifications for office.

51. Citizens of modest means who cannot support a candidate at the levels listed above are unable to support viable, competitive campaigns by persons representing their interests. Those citizens are thus unable to participate meaningfully in the electoral process for North Carolina General Assembly seats.

52. Citizens of modest means who cannot participate meaningfully in all integral aspects of the electoral process do not have an equal and meaningful opportunity to seek representation of their interests in the North Carolina General Assembly.

53. Winners of General Assembly elections have consistently and substantially outspent losers. From 1992 through 1998, winners of North Carolina Senate seats have outspent their rivals by an average margin of 212.79 percent, or, expressed as a ratio, a margin of over 2 to 1. From 1992 through 1998, winners of North Carolina House seats have outspent their rivals by an average of 175.06 percent, or a margin of nearly 2 to 1.

54. During each of the most recent four elections cycles, the vast majority of winners in General Assembly elections either outspent their opponents or faced no opposition at all. The following table summarizes these statistics by year and cumulatively over the four-cycle period:

House/Type of Election

Year

Percent of Winners Who Outspent Opponents or Faced No Opposition

Percent of Winners Who Faced No Opposition

House Primary

1992

90.83 %

72.92 %

1994

90.00

74.17

1996

94.17

78.33

1998

97.50

86.25

‘92-‘98 Average

93.13

77.92

Senate Primary

1992

93.00 %

69.00 %

1994

90.00

69.00

1996

92.00

68.00

1998

96.00

82.00

‘92-’98 Average

92.75

72.00

All Primary

1992

91.47 %

71.76 %

1994

90.00

72.65

1996

93.53

75.29

1998

97.06

85.00

‘92-’98 Average

93.01

76.18

Senate General

1992

90.00 %

18.00 %

1994

80.00

36.00

1996

82.00

20.00

1998

86.00

30.00

‘92-‘98 Average

84.50

26.00

House General

1992

85.83 %

35.83 %

1994

85.00

45.83

1996

80.00

34.17

1998

85.83

43.33

‘92-’98 Average

84.17

39.79

Total General

1992

87.06 %

30.59 %

1994

83.53

42.94

1996

80.59

30.00

1998

86.00

39.41

‘92-’98 Average

84.26

35.74

55. Prospective candidates often choose not to challenge an opponent who has amassed, or is likely to amass, a substantial campaign war chest. This disincentive to competition largely accounts for the fact that more than 76 percent of all primaries and 35 percent of all General Assembly elections over the past four election cycles have been uncontested.

56. During the last four election cycles, only 15.83 percent of all races for the North Carolina House were won by a candidate who spent less money than his or her opponent. The analogous figure for the North Carolina Senate is 13 percent.

57. During the last four election cycles, in those instances where the ‘underspending’ candidate for the North Carolina House prevailed, those ‘underspending’ winners still spent, on average, $29,528, or 63.16 percent of what their opponents spent. During the last four election cycles, in those instances where the ‘underspending’ candidates for the North Carolina Senate prevailed, those ‘underspending’ winners still spent, on average, $38,038, or 46.65 percent of what their opponents spent.

58. During the last four election cycles, a statistically insignificant number of candidates won contested elections to the General Assembly without spending a substantial sum of money.

59. More importantly, over the last four election cycles, almost no one mounted a viable, competitive campaign for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly without spending a substantial amount of money.

60. Regression analyses of electoral spending data from the four most recent election cycles statistically confirm the proposition that raising and spending a substantial sum of money is a prerequisite to viable competition in campaigns for the North Carolina General Assembly.

61. Controlling for the major variables that may have some effect on electoral results, including the race, gender, and party of the candidates, the partisanship of the electoral district, incumbency, previous offices held, as well as the racial composition, educational background, household income and occupation of the relevant electorate, regression analyses of recent elections to the North Carolina General Assembly reveal a strong, consistent, and statistically significant correlation between electoral spending and the results of elections.

62. Regression analyses confirm that, in North Carolina General Assembly elections, campaign expenditures and electoral results are inextricably linked, independent of all other variables. In all kinds of situations, the amount of money that a candidate spends is critical in determining what proportion of the vote that candidate will receive and whether he or she can win.

63. In sum, based on the information contained in the preceding paragraphs candidates cannot meaningfully participate in an election to the General Assembly in North Carolina without raising and spending a substantial sum of money.

64. The rise in election spending since 1992 reflects the broad consensus among candidates for North Carolina office, their financial sponsors, and supporters that spending is indispensable to electoral success. This conviction is unequivocally borne out by empirical data.

65. Prospective candidacies are now primarily evaluated in terms of the candidate’s ability to raise money. If a candidate for the General Assembly cannot demonstrate the ability to raise a substantial amount of money, he or she is not considered a viable candidate, regardless of his or her qualifications for office. Accordingly, potential donors, including political parties, are less willing to fund candidates who are not already wealthy or otherwise well-funded.

66. Campaigning for seats in the General Assembly has become a distinct and definable process. Almost all campaign activity is routine and can be outlined in workshops or courses. Numerous individuals and organizations advise, consult, and train potential candidates for office in this process.

67. Two overriding questions now dominate the advice and training offered to potential candidates about the process of campaigning for General Assembly seats: a) "how much money can the candidate raise?"; and b) "who will give the candidate the money he or she needs?". Candidates who don’t know the answer to the latter question and cannot answer the first one with a high dollar amount are advised not to run.

68. The question of how much money a candidate can raise has become more important than questions regarding a candidate’s qualifications and policies. If one cannot compete in the campaign fundraising process, a candidate’s qualifications and policies are irrelevant.

69. Raising and spending a substantial sum of money has become a prerequisite to any meaningful campaign for a seat in the General Assembly.

70. Raising and spending a substantial sum of money has become an integral part of the electoral process for seats in the North Carolina General Assembly.

71. A candidate’s ability to raise and spend substantial sums of money determines his or her ability to participate meaningfully in the electoral process for General Assembly elections.

72. The requirement that candidates raise and spend substantial sums of money in order to compete meaningfully in elections for the General Assembly amounts to a de facto "wealth primary". The wealth primary is a distinct, definable, and integral part of the electoral process for seats in the North Carolina General Assembly.

73. Candidates without access to substantial sums of money cannot meaningfully compete in the wealth primary and thus cannot meaningfully participate in an integral part of the electoral process for seats in the General Assembly.

74. Citizens of modest means, who cannot offer financial support for candidates of their choice at levels sufficient to allow said candidates to compete in the wealth primary, cannot meaningfully participate in an integral part of the electoral process for seats in the General Assembly.

75. Citizens with no disposable income, who cannot offer any financial support to candidates who would represent their interests, are completely excluded from participation in the wealth primary and thus completely excluded from participation in an integral part of the electoral process for seats in the North Carolina General Assembly.

76. The wealth primary is, accordingly, a barrier to meaningful participation in the electoral process for a vast sector of the North Carolina electorate.

77. The exclusionary impact of the wealth primary falls with unequal weight on North Carolina voters, as well as candidates, according to their economic status.

78. Having wealth or access to wealth is not a constitutionally permissible qualification on the right to vote or hold office.

79. North Carolina does not provide any form of direct public financing for candidates for either branch of the General Assembly.

80. The Constitution of North Carolina does not permit the adoption of legislation through ballot initiative elections.

81. North Carolina does provide a form of public financing for select political parties. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163.278.41. This provision allows taxpayers to direct money from their state tax payments to go directly to registered, established political parties. This provision, however, does not generate, and has never generated, revenues sufficient to fund viable campaigns for seats in the General Assembly.

82. North Carolina also provides a form of public financing for candidates for select statewide offices. See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163.278.46. This provision does not generate any revenues to fund campaigns for the General Assembly.

83. As a result of the information contained in the previous two paragraphs, North Carolina has delegated the responsibility for funding public elections for General Assembly seats entirely to private entities.

84. Under North Carolina law, individuals and political committees may donate up to $4,000.00 per election to the candidate of their choice. An "election" is defined to mean "any primary, second primary, or general election". See N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-278.13(d). Thus individuals, PAC’s, and political committees may contribute up to $8,000.00 to a candidate during a normal one-primary, one-general election cycle.

85. There is no limit on how much money a candidate may contribute to his or her own campaign or how much a candidate may receive from his or her immediate family.

86. North Carolina also allows candidates to carry forward unused funds from one campaign cycle to the next. Defendants thus facilitate the funding advantage of incumbents and other successful fundraisers, despite the fact that the funds carried forward may not reflect contemporaneous popular support.

87. Defendants’ regulation of campaign funding assists incumbents and other successful fundraisers in amassing and maintaining large campaign war chests, which impose a substantial in terrorem disincentive on citizens who would challenge well-funded candidates and on supporters who would otherwise contribute money to such challengers. The electoral advantage conferred by North Carolina upon wealthy candidates and candidates with access to wealth makes it far more difficult for non-wealthy candidates to contemplate, much less embark upon, campaigns for seats in the General Assembly.

88. North Carolina’s contribution limits and exemptions thereto shape the political process in General Assembly elections and sustain the exclusionary effects of the wealth primary.

89. As set forth more fully in the following paragraphs, wealth is not only a prerequisite to meaningful participation in North Carolina General Assembly elections, it also carries a corresponding influence in the policies and practices of the state’s elected representatives. Defendants’ systematic exclusion of non-wealthy citizens from meaningful participation in electoral politics is manifest not only in the diminished ability of those citizens to nominate and elect candidates to represent their interests, but also in the well-documented pattern of elected representatives giving special access to those who have contributed to their campaigns.

90. Amassing substantial campaign funds is a prerequisite to meaningful electoral participation. With the exception of wealthy individuals who are willing and able to finance their own campaigns, the bulk of the funds needed to run for office come from political action committees and individuals who have a direct financial interest in decisions of the General Assembly.

91. Substantial contributions by persons or entities with interests in legislative outcomes undermine the integrity of state government by providing opportunities for corruption and disproportionate influence. They also contribute to the persistent public perception of corruption.

92. According to the research done by the non-partisan, non-profit organization, Democracy South, 90 percent of donations to North Carolina PACs, parties, or candidates are contributed by less than 1 percent of the citizens of North Carolina.

93. According to Democracy South, in the 1996 cycle, two thirds of the $9.7 million contributed to winning General Assembly candidates came from lobbyists, PACs, special interest groups, or individuals contributing $500.00 or more.

94. Despite North Carolina’s cap on individual, political committee, and PAC donations at $4,000.00 per election, see N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-278.13, and its prohibition of direct corporate or labor union contributions to candidates and political committees, see N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-278.15, monied interests regularly coordinate, or ‘bundle’, individual contributions as a method of winning special access to elected officials. These bundled contributions have influenced legislative outcomes.

95. Plaintiffs are injured by Defendants’ operation and sanction of the wealth primary for General Assembly seats not only in their diminished opportunity to meaningfully participate in an integral part of the electoral process but also on account of the reality and appearance of the corrupting influence of elected officials that arises from an electoral system dominated by money.

Plaintiffs’ Injuries

96. Based upon her extensive education, forty-two years of experience as a teacher, principal, and supervisor in the Shelby City Schools, board membership on civic and professional organizations, and distinguished service on the Shelby City Council, Plaintiff Aileen Ford is eminently qualified to represent her community in the General Assembly. Notwithstanding her qualifications, and the substantial popular support for her candidacies, Ms. Ford was unable to mount a viable campaign for a seat in the General Assembly because she is not wealthy and does not have access to substantial wealth.

(1). In 1996, Ms. Ford campaigned for one of the three seats in the state House of Representatives for District 48. Having succeeded in the Democratic primary, Ms. Ford placed fourth in a field of seven candidates in the general election. Ms. Ford was only able to raise and spend $9,007. The three winners of that general election spent $53,581, $52,228, and $40,684. Despite her substantial grassroots support, Ms. Ford’s was unable to spread her electoral message through the four counties covered by District 48 for want of funds.

(2). In 1998, Ms. Ford ran again but lost the primary election for a seat in House 48. Ms. Ford was able to raise and spend only $5,013. Despite Ms. Ford’s considerable popular support and substantial qualifications for office, she was unable to raise a competitive sum of money from her natural constituency -- the citizens of District 48 who have modest or negligible incomes.

(3). In 1993, Ms. Ford attended workshops at the North Carolina Institute for Political Leadership at U.N.C. Wilmington (hereinafter, "IOPL"), a non-partisan training center for persons who wish to run for public office. The IOPL curriculum offers training in all aspects of running a competitive campaign, but features prominently training in fundraising. The IOPL instructors confirmed Ms. Ford’s experience and observation of North Carolina politics, namely that one cannot viably compete for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly without raising and spending substantial sums of money.

97. Based upon his extensive education, eight and one-half years of military service, twenty-five years in business, extensive service on numerous local civic and church organizations, and official experience as a member of Greenville’s School Board and City Council and as Greenville’s Mayor, Plaintiff Ed Carter is eminently qualified to represent his community in the General Assembly. Notwithstanding his qualifications, and the substantial popular support for his candidacies, Mr. Carter was unable to mount a viable campaign for a seat in the General Assembly because he is not wealthy and does not have access to substantial wealth.

(1). In 1996, Mr. Carter ran for the District 6 seat in the North Carolina State Senate, losing in the Democratic primary. He was only able to raise and spend $6,797 to spread his electoral message. By contrast, his opponent raised and spent $35,537.

(2). In 1998, Mr. Carter ran again for the District 6 seat in the Senate and was again defeated in the primary. This time, Mr. Carter raised and spent $11,539 while his opponent spent $40,211.

(3). After losing in the primary in 1998, Mr. Carter entered the race for House District 8 as an independent candidate. Having exhausted almost all of his funding base, Mr. Carter had only $3,144 to direct this final campaign. He was defeated by an opponent who spent $44,888.

(4). In all of his campaigns, despite substantial local popular support and a large, volunteer staff of campaign workers, Mr. Carter could not reach a critical number of primary voters with his campaign message. Mr. Carter was unable to compete effectively on account of his lack of wealth or access to wealth.

98. Plaintiff Owen Burney, Jr. was a supporter and campaign manager for both of Mr. Carter’s General Assembly races. In those campaigns, Mr. Burney worked tirelessly to raise money from Mr. Carter’s natural low and middle income constituency, most of whom were only able to donate $10 or $15. Though Mr. Burney organized energetic grassroots campaign efforts for both of Mr. Carter’s General Assembly campaigns, no matter how hard he and the other volunteers worked, he was unable to spread effectively Mr. Carter’s campaign speech for want of substantial funding.

(1). As a citizen active in local politics, Mr. Burney regularly devotes some of his savings to support candidates for office who would represent his interests and the interests of other middle and low income residents of Pitt County. The largest donation he has made to a candidate for the General Assembly is $200. To donate more money regularly to his chosen candidates would cause him and his family hardship.

(2). As a voter, Mr. Burney, and other middle and low income citizens, have difficulty identifying viable candidates for office who would represent their interests. Mr. Burney’s experience has been that elected officials’ primary loyalty lies with those persons who have contributed substantially to their campaigns.

99. Based upon his education, business experience, a lifetime of public service founding, directing, or serving on boards of numerous civic, environmental, and governmental agencies, and his many citations from prominent educational and community organizations, Plaintiff Gary Grant is eminently qualified to serve his community in the General Assembly. Notwithstanding his qualifications, his desire to represent his community, and the substantial popular support for his policies and objectives, Mr. Grant is unable to mount a viable campaign for a seat in the General Assembly because he is not wealthy and does not have access to substantial wealth.

(1). Mr. Grant has worked on many campaigns for both national and state elected office. Mr. Grant has learned that fundraising is the most critical aspect of running for office.

(2). In 1996, Mr. Grant first considered running for a seat in the General Assembly, speaking at length to family and friends about the details of his prospective campaign. Because Mr. Grant has little personal wealth and comes from a community with almost no wealthy citizens, he recognized that he could not mount a viable, competitive campaign on account of the constraints of the wealth primary. The many people who would support his candidacy would do so precisely because he is qualified to represent the interests of non-wealthy citizens. Though these persons would make some contributions to his campaign, Mr. Grant could not raise from his natural, substantial constituency the funding sufficient to compete meaningfully for a seat in the General Assembly.

100. As a former "Clean Money" candidate for Craven County Commissioner and as a business owner and citizen long active in local politics, who is especially concerned about the disproportionate political influence of the local home building and hog farming industries, Plaintiff William Harper is eminently qualified to serve his community in the General Assembly. Notwithstanding his qualifications, and the substantial popular support for his candidacies, Mr. Harper was unable to mount a viable campaign for a seat in the General Assembly because he is not wealthy and does not have access to substantial wealth.

(1). Mr. Harper first ran for a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives in 1996. In this campaign, Mr. Harper refused to accept corporate-related contributions, knowing them to be tantamount to solicitations of quid pro quo political debts. Mr. Harper was able to raise and spend only $6,446, while his opponent spent $57,745. During the campaign, Mr. Harper could afford to run only one newspaper ad per week.

(2). A substantial segment of the electorate in House District 3 supported Mr. Harper on account of his platform, which included opposition to building on local wetlands, opposition to tax breaks for local industries, and the complete renunciation of support from wealthy individuals connected to those local industries. In his 1996 campaign, the largest contribution Mr. Harper ever accepted was $300. Because of his lack of money, Mr. Harper was unable to reach a critical mass of the electorate with his campaign speech.

(3). In 1998, Mr. Harper again ran for office, but faced prospective competition in the Democratic primary from an opponent with considerable financial backing. Recognizing that he could not muster enough money to compete in both an expensive primary and an expensive general election, Mr. Harper decided to run in 1998 as an independent candidate. The prospect of having to raise substantial sums of money deterred Mr. Harper from his natural political affiliation and forced him to wage a battle for office without any party support.

(4). In the 1998 general election for the House seat from District 3, Mr. Harper’s two opponents spent $101,736 and $80,261, while Mr. Harper was able to spend only $2,414. Mr. Harper was unable to compete meaningfully for want of funds.

(5). In both of his campaigns for House District 3, Mr. Harper recognized that, in order to run a viable campaign, the wealth primary required him to solicit contributions from wealthy individuals connected to powerful local businesses. Mr. Harper refused to violate his conscience and his principles in this manner for the sake of electoral expediency.

101. Based upon her education, her longstanding involvement in local politics, and her active commitment as a government watchdog, Plaintiff Mary Jo Loftin is eminently qualified to serve her community in the General Assembly. Notwithstanding her qualifications, and the substantial popular support for her candidacies, Ms. Loftin was unable to mount a viable campaign for a seat in the General Assembly because she is not wealthy and does not have access to substantial wealth.

(1). Though Ms. Loftin had considerable popular support for her campaigns, she was unable to raise substantial sums of money from her natural constituency. Ms. Loftin did not solicit or receive any substantial financial support from monied interests because of her belief that representatives in state government should serve the entire electorate, not simply those persons or interests who had contributed to their campaigns. Many people supported Ms. Loftin precisely because of this belief.

(3). In 1996, Ms. Loftin ran and lost in the Republican primary election for Senate District 5, having raised and spent only $583. Her opponent spent $12,203. On account of her inadequate funding, Ms. Loftin was unable to spread effectively her electoral message throughout the five rural counties, all or part of which form Senate District 5.

(4). In 1998, Ms. Loftin won the Republican primary contest for Senate District 5. Over the entire 1998 election cycle, however, Ms. Loftin was only able to raise and spend $2,530. Her opponent spent $102,095. As a result of her inadequate funding, Ms. Loftin was unable to compete meaningfully.

(5). Ms. Loftin is not wealthy and was not able to contribute more than a few hundred dollars of her own funds towards her political campaigns. Though many people supported Ms. Loftin’s candidacy, very few were able to donate sums of money above $100.

102. Based upon his education, long experience as a health care provider, and experience as a field representative for a United States Congresswoman, Plaintiff Daniel Mallison is eminently qualified to serve his community in the General Assembly. Notwithstanding his qualifications, and the substantial popular support for his candidacies, Mr. Mallison was unable to mount a viable campaign for a seat in the General Assembly because he is not wealthy and does not have access to substantial wealth.

(1). In 1996, Mr. Mallison ran for a seat from House District 2, which comprises Beaufort and Hyde counties, as well as parts of Craven and Pitt counties. In that campaign, Mr. Mallison decided to use over $5,500 dollars he had saved for a down-payment on a home. Mr. Mallison also left his employment for three months before the election to devote all his energies to grassroots campaigning. Mr. Mallison lost this election.

(2). After his defeat in 1996, Mr. Mallison received a deluge of requests from his constituents, begging him to run again and lamenting the fact that non-wealthy residents of the House District 2 region would never be able to support a winning candidate on account of the rising sums of money needed to campaign effectively. (3). In 1998, Mr. Mallison again ran for a seat from House District 2. He raised only $11,771, having exhausted his available personal resources in the previous race. Mr. Mallison’s chief primary opponent, a person of considerable personal wealth, spent $17,782 in the primary. During this race, Mr. Mallison’s chief primary opponent publicly suggested that Mr. Mallison was unelectable because he would not be able to raise enough money to compete viably in the general election. Because he could not afford to disseminate a contrary, positive electoral message, Mr. Mallison lost in the primary. Potential donors, including the Democratic Party, would not continue to support a candidate whom they perceived as an unsuccessful fundraiser.

103. Plaintiff Edwin Booth supported Daniel Mallison in each of his campaigns for a seat in the North Carolina House. Mr. Booth is an active member of his church and community who has volunteered on a number of political campaigns at the local, state, and federal level. As a person of modest means, Mr. Booth was not able to donate more than $100 to Mr. Mallison’s campaigns. Though he worked many hours as a volunteer on the strategy and fundraising teams for Mr. Mallison’s campaigns, he recognized that, no matter how hard he and the other volunteers tried, they could not effectively spread Mr. Mallison’s electoral message without money.

(1). In 1996, Mr. Booth saw that Mr. Mallison was not able to compete meaningfully with his opponent’s expenditures until he received a substantial infusion of funds from the Democratic party. Mr. Booth believes that, without those funds from the party, Mr. Mallison would not have been able to mount a competitive campaign, despite his considerable popular support.

(2). With the exception of Mr. Mallison’s 1996 campaign, Mr. Booth has recently been unable to identify viable candidates on the ballot for the General Assembly who would represent his interests and the interests of the community of non-wealthy persons of which he is a member.

(3). Like most of the other non-wealthy residents from his district, Mr. Booth now despairs of ever being meaningfully represented in state government.

104. Based upon his education, business experience, published writings, activism on behalf of agricultural preservation and racial reconciliation, as well as service to the community as a Pastor, County Commissioner, and board member of numerous civic organizations, Plaintiff Gary Phillips is eminently qualified to serve his community in the General Assembly. Notwithstanding his qualifications, and the substantial popular support for his candidacies, Mr. Phillips cannot mount a viable campaign for a seat in the General Assembly because he is not wealthy and does not have access to substantial wealth.

(1). Mr. Phillips has worked on many campaigns for local and national office. Mr. Phillips has witnessed first hand the tactical importance of fundraising and its central role in electoral success. In particular, Mr. Phillips has become familiar with the regular operation of fundraising among North Carolina’s business community. For example, Mr. Phillips is a member of NCFREE, a political research organization comprised of and serving North Carolina businesses. In its comprehensive reports, NCFREE evaluates prospective candidates for office with special attention on how their platforms do or do not favor business interests. The NCFREE publications direct North Carolina businesspersons to funnel their campaign donations to specific candidates who will vote in favor of business interests. The systematic organization of business fundraising in North Carolina reflects the fundamental importance of fundraising in electoral competition.

(2). Were it not for the wealth primary, Mr. Phillips would run for a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly on a platform which would prominently include agricultural preservation and racial reconciliation. Though Mr. Phillips could raise small sums of money from the substantial number of individuals who have asked him to run for office, he knows that he would have to raise money far in excess of those amounts in order to compete meaningfully. In particular, Mr. Phillips would have to go beyond his grassroots constituency into the business community in order to amass the amounts he estimates it would take to begin a meaningful House campaign.

(3). Mr. Phillips’ platform, though widely supported by North Carolinians, would not receive substantial support from the business community. Seeking substantial funds from the business lobby in North Carolina would necessarily violate Mr. Phillips’ platform agenda as well as his conscience. As a result of his beliefs, Mr. Phillips cannot raise sufficient funds to run for office, despite his considerable grassroots support.

105. Plaintiff Randy B. Royal, a lifetime resident of North Carolina, has been a Pastor at the Phillippi Church in Greenville for 21 years, presently serving there as the Senior Pastor. Pastor Royal regularly votes in local, state, and federal elections. Pastor Royal has a modest income and no substantial assets with which to make large political contributions. His largest financial contribution to any candidate for office was $50. Regularly donating more to candidate campaigns would cause him extreme hardship.

(1). Pastor Royal has volunteered in numerous political campaigns, including three campaigns for seats on the General Assembly. Pastor Royal supported these candidates based upon their concern for persons of modest means within his community. Not surprisingly, those candidates, seeking to represent persons of modest means, were unable raise substantial sums of money from their natural constituency.

(2). As a campaign volunteer, Pastor Royal distributed flyers, raised money, and spoke publicly on behalf of the candidates. None of the three General Assembly candidates he supported won their elections.

(3). Without exception, lack of adequate campaign funds was the dominant factor leading to the defeat of the candidates for whom he volunteered. No matter how hard he and other volunteers worked, they could not compensate for the lack of adequate funding in attempting to spread the candidate’s campaign speech.

(4). Only those candidates who have wealth or access to wealth are able to mount viable campaigns in his district. Persons elected to the General Assembly from his district appear to be disproportionately influenced by those who have contributed to their campaigns. Both the perception and actuality of this disproportionate influence have eroded his confidence in state government.

(5). Pastor Royal is regularly unable to identify or support viable, competitive candidates on the General Assembly ballot who would represent his interests and the interests of other low-income residents of Pitt County.

106. Plaintiff Fannie Walden regularly votes in local, state, and federal elections. She has served as a voter registrar in Wake and Columbus Counties. After many years of employment in the textile, transit, retail, and farming businesses, Ms. Walden became disabled in 1991 due to physical injury and illness. She has very modest income and virtually no money with which to make any political contributions.

(1). A foster parent for three children, Ms. Walden is a concerned and active citizen in her community and has long supported the interests of poor and low-income people, foster children, and all citizens with mental health problems. Her voice regarding these issues is not fairly considered in the legislative process because candidates who would listen adequately to her and others like her are barred by the wealth primary from mounting viable campaigns.

(2). As a citizen who does not have wealth or access to wealth, Ms. Walden cannot serve as a candidate and she cannot find candidates to support in General Assembly elections who will represent her interests. She endures taxation without representation.

107. Plaintiff Daniel Johnson Willis is a retiree of very modest means from Trenton. He is Chair of the Jones County Improvement Association and a longtime member of the NAACP. Mr. Willis is unable to make political contributions larger than $10 to candidates who would represent his interests.

(1). Mr. Willis has tried in vain on numerous occasions to communicate with his local elected representatives, inviting them to attend local meetings and traveling in person to their Raleigh offices. Among other things, Mr. Willis has attempted to seek remedies for the stark infrastructure disparities between African American and white communities in Jones County.

(2). Elected representatives in the General Assembly have not responded in any meaningful fashion to Mr. Willis’ numerous appeals. His neighborhood in Trenton still lacks sidewalks, curbs, and gutters.

(3). Mr. Willis is unable to identify or support viable candidates on the General Assembly ballot who would represent his interests and the interests of other low-income residents of Jones County.

108. Plaintiff North Carolina NAACP, a non-profit organization of over 10,000 members, has advocated for decades on behalf of the voting rights of African Americans. The North Carolina NAACP has worked to remove barriers to the rights of African Americans and other North Carolina citizens to participate fully in the electoral process.

North Carolina NAACP engages in voter registration activity throughout the state of North Carolina. Through volunteers, the organization conducts voter registration drives at public places throughout the state.

(1). Members of the North Carolina NAACP regularly vote in elections for seats on the North Carolina General Assembly.

(2). Most of the North Carolina NAACP’s members are of low or modest income and without financial resources to make substantial campaign contributions. The North Carolina NAACP advocates against electoral systems where amassing wealth is a precondition to meaningful participation. The North Carolina NAACP’s advocacy emphasizes equal voting rights regardless of race or economic status. Officers and members monitor the conduct of voter registration, campaigns, and elections throughout the state.

(3). The North Carolina NAACP regularly communicates with members of the North Carolina House and Senate about issues affecting meaningful political participation and social justice.

(4). The extant system of privately financing elections to the North Carolina General Assembly prevents members of the North Carolina NAACP from meaningfully exercising their right to vote because it effectively excludes them from meaningful participation in an integral aspect of the electoral process, namely the support and funding of viable campaigns. By limiting meaningful competition to only those candidates who can raise and spend substantial sums of money, the wealth primary sanctioned and ratified by Defendants excludes the members of the North Carolina NAACP from an equal and meaningful opportunity to support viable candidates who would represent their interests. The wealth primary has an unequal and disproportionate effect on members of the North Carolina NAACP because it imposes qualifications for public office based upon a candidate’s economic status or personal associations.

109. Plaintiff North Carolina Alliance for Democracy is a non-partisan, non-profit grassroots coalition of organizations and individuals from across North Carolina. In 1997, NCAD successfully campaigned for the N.C. Full Disclosure Act, which sheds some light on the sources of campaign funding in North Carolina elections. Of the forty-eight statewide and local organizations which comprise NCAD’s membership, twenty-two are organizations that serve low-income citizens in North Carolina. The membership of these organizations is also comprised of low-income voters. The remaining organizations in NCAD advocate on behalf of issues such as the environment, racial reconciliation, political reform, social justice, and electoral fairness.

(1). The member groups of NCAD that advocate on behalf of low income citizens in North Carolina are generally comprised of persons who cannot make substantial donations to candidates for seats in the General Assembly.

(2). NCAD and its constituent member groups regularly communicate with members of the North Carolina House and Senate about issues affecting electoral reform, regulation of governmental lobbying, fair and effective voter registration, and the creation of a political process that is open, accountable, and responsive to the public.

110. Plaintiff NC Fair Share is a non-partisan, non-profit membership, advocacy, and leadership development organization comprised almost entirely of non-wealthy citizens. NC Fair Share works with low wealth, unemployed and underemployed North Carolinians to provide NC policymakers a progressive agenda. Established in 1987, NC Fair Share members have worked for rural clean water and sewer projects, rural public hospital maternity wards, expanded Medicaid for the disabled and elderly, affordable housing, quality education, affordable health care, and tax code reform.

(1). The members of NC Fair Share regularly vote in elections for seats in the North Carolina General Assembly.

(2). Almost all of NC Fair Share’s membership lacks resources to make substantial campaign contributions.

(3). NC Fair Share regularly communicates with members of the North Carolina House and Senate about issues affecting non-wealthy citizens of North Carolina. NC Fair Share activists persistently encounter difficulty identifying candidates for office, or elected members of the General Assembly, who understand the experiences, needs, and viewpoints of North Carolina’s non-wealthy citizens.

111. Plaintiff NC Consumers Council is a statewide membership and advocacy organization formed in 1968 to promote the rights and interests of North Carolina consumers. NCCC engages is public education and grassroots advocacy by publishing newsletters, press releases, and market studies concerning consumers rights, especially in the field of predatory lending, clean food and water, utility regulation, prescription drug pricing, and tax policy. NCCC representatives have testified on various topics before numerous state legislative and regulatory bodies.

(1). Many of NCCC’s members, and most of the beneficiaries of its work are persons of modest means who cannot afford to make substantial contributions to General Assembly candidates.

(2). As a result, the interests and viewpoints of NCCC’s members are not adequately represented in the North Carolina General Assembly.

112. Plaintiff Concerned Citizens of Tillery is a membership and advocacy association of approximately 1,500 residents of the New Deal resettlement community known as Tillery, North Carolina. Organized in 1978 when the local school board announced the closing of the community school, CCT advocates on behalf of its members and other non-wealthy communities in eastern North Carolina. CCT has been recognized by the International Healthcare Forum and the Friends of United Nations for its innovative programs providing health care in rural settings and for community self-empowerment.

(1). Ninety-eight percent of CCT’s members are registered to vote. Voter turnout from Tillery is regularly between 70 and 90 percent. Almost all of CCT’s voters are persons of very modest means.

(2). With one notable exception, CCT has been unable to identify viable candidates responsive to its concerns about local environmental and economic problems. Generally, CCT’s representatives in the General Assembly over the past two decades have turned a deaf ear to the concerns of the community. CCT’s inability to muster financial support for legislative candidates has prevented its members from obtaining responsive representation.

113. Plaintiff Citizens for Responsible Government of Guilford County is a non-partisan association that advocates for participatory democracy in North Carolina. CRG was formed in the early 1970’s (under the name "Citizens for Representative Government") to support a modified district voting system in Greensboro that would provide stronger representation for African-American voters. During the 1980’s, CRG expanded the scope of its work to monitor the workings of local government by sending a representative to meetings of the County Commission, City Council, Planning and Zoning Boards, and other official governmental bodies.

(1) CRG advocates on behalf of issues affecting North Carolina’s marginalized citizens, including public health, race relations, mass transportation, fair and affordable housing, sustainable land use, adequate education, and environmental protection. Currently, CRG focuses its energies in aid of campaign finance reform.

(2) Most of the beneficiaries of CRG’s work are persons of modest means who cannot afford to make substantial contributions to General Assembly candidates.

(3). As a result, the interests and viewpoints of CRG’s beneficiaries are not adequately represented in the North Carolina General Assembly.

114. Plaintiff North Carolina Waste Awareness Reduction Network is a non-profit, non-partisan environmental health advocacy organization formed in 1988 to assist communities that are exposed to dangerous levels of pollution and to advocate generally to reduce the general population’s exposure to industrial and radioactive toxins. NC WARN has been recognized by national organizations for its grassroots environmental justice work. It has a multi-racial, rural and urban membership of over 500 citizens, almost all of whom are registered to vote. The rural communities most directly served by NC WARN’s projects are generally comprised of low income citizens and persons of color.

(1). Many of NC WARN’s members, and most of the beneficiaries of its work are persons of modest means who cannot afford to make substantial contributions to General Assembly candidates.

(2). As a result, the interests and viewpoints of NC WARN’s members and beneficiaries are not adequately represented in the North Carolina General Assembly.

115. The wealth primary sanctioned and ratified by Defendants, which determines who may run a viable campaign for state office, excludes Mr. Booth, Mr. Burney, Pastor Royal, Ms. Walden, and Mr. Willis, as well as other voters without wealth or access to wealth, from equal and meaningful participation in the electoral process. As a result, these plaintiffs do not receive adequate, meaningful representation in the North Carolina General Assembly.

116. The wealth primary sanctioned and ratified by Defendants, which determines who may run a viable campaign for state office, excludes Mr. Carter, Ms. Ford, Mr. Harper, Ms. Loftin, and Mr. Mallison, as well as other candidates without wealth or access to wealth, from equal and meaningful participation in the electoral process.

117. Moreover, the wealth primary forces Mr. Harper, Ms. Loftin, Mr. Phillips, and other prospective candidates who abhor political debts, to violate the dictates of their consciences and rights to free association in order to mount competitive electoral campaigns.

118. By deterring them from running for office, the wealth primary sanctioned and ratified by Defendants excludes Mr. Grant, Mr. Phillips, and those who would support their candidacies, from equal and meaningful participation in the electoral process.

119. The extant system of privately financing elections to the North Carolina General Assembly prevents members of North Carolina NAACP, NCAD, NC Fair Share, NCCC, CCT, CRG, and NC WARN from meaningfully exercising their right to vote because it effectively excludes them from meaningful participation in an integral part of the electoral process, namely the support and funding of viable campaigns. By limiting meaningful electoral competition to those candidates who can raise and spend substantial sums of money, the wealth primary sanctioned and ratified by Defendants excludes the members of North Carolina NAACP, NCAD, NC Fair Share, NCCC, CCT, CRG, and NC WARN from an equal and meaningful opportunity to support viable candidates who would represent their interests. The wealth primary has an unequal and disproportionate effect on many members of North Carolina NAACP, NCAD, NC Fair Share, NCCC, CCT, CRG, and NC WARN, as it imposes qualifications for office related to a candidate’s economic status or personal associations.

120. The wealth primary sanctioned and ratified by the Defendants directly undermines the institutional missions of North Carolina NAACP, NCAD, NC Fair Share, NCCC, CCT, CRG, and NC WARN.

121. Basic political rights necessarily include meaningful participation in all integral aspects of the electoral process.

122. By ratifying the results of elections in which only those candidates who can raise substantial sums of money meaningfully compete, Defendants institute and employ a de facto primary candidate selection process based entirely on the accumulation of wealth. Candidates who do not win this wealth primary do not stand any statistically significant chance of winning a seat in the General Assembly.

123. By ratifying the results of elections in which only those candidates who can raise substantial sums of money meaningfully compete, Defendants augment the electoral voice of the wealthy and thereby violate Plaintiffs’ rights to Equal Protection under the law, as guaranteed by the North Carolina Constitution.

124. By ratifying the results of elections in which only those candidates who can raise substantial sums of money meaningfully compete, Defendants impose a significant property qualification upon the ability of a citizen to hold office. Candidates who do not have, or do not have access to, significant amounts of money can not meaningfully compete for a seat in the General Assembly.

125. By ratifying the results of elections in which only those candidates who can raise substantial sums of money meaningfully compete, Defendants place an unconstitutional condition upon the Plaintiffs’ rights to freedom of association and conscience. Candidates without money or access to money face a choice between soliciting contributions from wealthy persons or political committees or abandoning their futile, underfunded campaigns.

126. By ratifying the results of elections in which only those candidates who can raise substantial sums of money meaningfully compete, Defendants confer special privileges and emoluments upon wealthy citizens of North Carolina, who have a disproportionate capacity to pre-select candidates for state office by contributing large sums of money to their campaigns.

127. By ratifying the results of elections in which only those candidates who can raise substantial sums of money meaningfully compete, Defendants violate the Plaintiffs’ right to a government based upon popular sovereignty and their right to a meaningful opportunity to obtain representation in the General Assembly.

128. By ratifying the results of elections in which only those candidates who can raise substantial sums of money meaningfully compete, Defendants violate the Plaintiffs’ right to free elections.

COUNT 1: EQUAL PROTECTION

129. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 128 as if fully set forth herein.

130. The exclusionary wealth primary employed, sanctioned and ratified by Defendants unlawfully violates Plaintiffs’ rights to equal protection of the laws under the Constitution of North Carolina in Article I, § 19.

COUNT 2: PROPERTY QUALIFICATIONS
AFFECTING THE RIGHT TO VOTE OR HOLD OFFICE

131. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 130 as if fully set forth herein.

132. The exclusionary wealth primary employed, sanctioned and ratified by Defendants unlawfully violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitution of North Carolina in Article I, §§ 10 and 11, Article II, §§ 6 and 7, and Article VI, § 6.

COUNT 3: FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE AND ASSOCIATION

133. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 132 as if fully set forth herein.

134. The exclusionary wealth primary employed, sanctioned and ratified by Defendants unlawfully violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitution of North Carolina in Article I, §§ 12 and 13.

COUNT 4: SPECIAL PRIVILEGES AND EMOLUMENTS

135. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 134 as if fully set forth herein.

136. The exclusionary wealth primary employed, sanctioned and ratified by Defendants unlawfully violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitution of North Carolina in Article I, § 32.

COUNT 5: POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY AND REPRESENTATION

137. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 136 as if fully set forth herein.

138. The exclusionary wealth primary employed, sanctioned and ratified by Defendants unlawfully violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitution of North Carolina in Article I, §§ 2 and 8.

COUNT 6: FREE ELECTIONS

139. Plaintiffs repeat and re-allege paragraphs 1 through 138 as if fully set forth herein.

140. The exclusionary wealth primary employed, sanctioned and ratified by Defendants unlawfully violates Plaintiffs’ rights under the Constitution of North Carolina in Article I, § 10.

PRAYER FOR RELIEF

WHEREFORE, relying on the foregoing allegations, Plaintiffs respectfully request that this Court:

1. Declare that the State of North Carolina has failed to fulfill its constitutional duty to establish and maintain a free and fair electoral system and, specifically, that the exclusionary wealth primary employed, sanctioned, and ratified by the State of North Carolina and the State Board of Elections in the conduct of General Assembly elections:

a. violates the Equal Protection provisions of Article I, § 19 of the North Carolina Constitution;

b. violates the Property Qualifications provisions of Article I, § 11 and the Electoral Qualifications provisions of Article II, §§ 6 and 7 and Article VI, § 6 of the North Carolina Constitution;

c. violates the guarantees of the Freedom of Conscience and Association set forth in Article I, §§ 12 and 13 of the North Carolina Constitution;

d. violates the Special Privileges and Emoluments provisions of Article I, § 32 of the North Carolina Constitution;

e. violates the guarantees of Popular Sovereignty and Representation contained in Article I, §§ 2 and 8 of the North Carolina Constitution;

f. violates the guarantee of Free Elections contained in Article I, § 10 of the North Carolina Constitution.

2. Order Defendants to take all steps necessary to remedy the exclusion of Plaintiffs, and other citizens without access to substantial wealth, from meaningful participation in all integral aspects of the electoral process for North Carolina legislative elections by providing adequate public financing which will allow any and all qualified citizens to compete meaningfully for public office, regardless of their economic status or personal associations;

3. Retain jurisdiction over this case to monitor and ensure full compliance with the injunctive provisions of the Court’s decree;

4. Award Plaintiffs their attorney’s fees and reasonable costs, in bringing this litigation;

5. Grant any other relief to Plaintiffs that the Court deems just and proper.

Respectfully submitted this 28th day of December, 1999.

/s/James G. Exum, Jr.
N.C. State Bar # 1392

SMITH HELMS MULLISS & MOORE, L.L.P.
300 N. Greene Street, Suite 1400
Greensboro, N.C. 27401
Telephone: (336) 378-5200

Gregory Luke *
John C. Bonifaz *
Brenda Wright *
Bonita Tenneriello *

NATIONAL VOTING RIGHTS INSTITUTE
294 Washington Street, Suite 713
Boston, MA 02108
Telephone: (617) 368-9100

Adam Stein
N.C. State Bar # 4145

FERGUSON & STEIN
312 West Franklin Street
Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27516
Telephone: (919) 933-5300

COUNSEL FOR: Edwin Booth, Ed Carter, Gary Grant, Aileen Ford, William Harper, Mary Jo Loftin, Daniel Mallison, Gary Phillips, Randy B. Royal, Daniel J. Willis, North Carolina State Conference of NAACP Branches, North Carolina Fair Share, Concerned Citizens of Tillery, North Carolina Alliance for Democracy, North Carolina Waste Awareness Reduction Network, Citizens for Responsible Government of Guilford County, and North Carolina Consumers Council.

/s/ Lewis Pitts
N.C. State Bar # 20592

MENTAL HEALTH UNIT, LEGAL SERVICES OF NORTH CAROLINA
224 S. Dawson St.
Raleigh, N. C. 27611
Telephone: (919) 856-2121

COUNSEL FOR: Fannie Walden

* Application for Admission Pro Hac Vice pending.