Report: GOP Pastor May Have Illegally Fundraised For Campaign At Church

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April 29, 2014 11:20 a.m.

Rev. Mark Harris, one of the eight Republicans competing for the nomination in the North Carolina Senate race, didn’t report donations from speaking events at church events as campaign donations.

That may put Harris in campaign finance hot water. The question has arisen in light of a new video showing Rev. Bill Saylor of the Blackwelder Park Baptist Church urging attendees to donate money to Harris (pictured), either as a pastor or a Senate candidate.

“Now, I want you to do this also —we’re going to take an offering, all right? We’re going to take an offering for Dr. Harris, for his coming and preaching, also for whatever you want to do otherwise for supporting him in this campaign,” Saylor said. “I hope you will think about it. He has some materials in his car. If you would like to get more materials and pass them out and thereby get better known in this area, and then when the primaries come, you and all of your friends can vote for him. Amen?”

Blackwelder Park Church is a 501(c)(3) organization and therefore is legally barred from supporting a candidate in an election. Harris has also not reported any of the church donations as campaign donations, according to a review by North Carolina’s WRAL.com. Harris shrugged off that fact by saying the money he’s received from churches isn’t a significant source of revenue.

“Some churches haven’t given me anything, quite frankly,” Harris said.

Experts in campaign finance told WRAL that this could be problematic for Harris.

“If it’s in the context of referencing him as a candidate, that seems problematic,” Common Cause of North Carolina director Bob Phillips said to WRAL.com.

Harris is a long shot candidate in the Republican primary to challenge Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC).

Watch the video of Saylor here.

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