Elections

Fact check: Missing filings, bankruptcy, illegal immigration support in NC congressional race?

Just days after in-person early voting began in North Carolina, the 2022 primary election is seeing tens of thousands of people head to the polls. N&O file photo

A recent campaign ad airing in North Carolina says congressional candidate Sandy Smith supports amnesty for immigrants who entered the United States illegally, failed to file financial disclosure forms, declared bankruptcy and did not turn in financial disclosure forms to the U.S. House Clerk.

The ad is paid for by the Congressional Leadership Fund, a political action committee focused on winning a Republican majority in the U.S. House. While Smith fits that bill, the Congressional Leadership Fund was founded by former House Speaker John Boehner and supports moderate conservatives.

And Smith is a far-right Republican, running in the 1st Congressional District race, who supports former President Donald Trump and attended the Jan. 6 rally in front of the Washington Monument. She is one of eight Republicans competing for primary votes in a district encompassing 18 of North Carolina’s far northeastern counties, represented now by retiring U.S. Rep G.K. Butterfield.

The News & Observer reviewed the Congressional Leadership Fund’s ad to find out if its allegations against Smith were true.

Amnesty

Claim: “Millions of border crossers, defying our rules. They’re lawbreakers but politicians like Sandy Smith would reward them with amnesty.”

This is untrue.

When Smith challenged Sen. Thom Tillis’ incumbency in 2020, amnesty was a key issue. Tillis was accused of putting forward a pro-amnesty bill to help immigrants, though Politifact and McClatchy found that claim, too, to be flawed.

That led to Americans for Legal Immigration PAC to endorse Smith for U.S. Senate over Tillis. The political action committee also endorsed her bid for the 1st Congressional District in this election, citing her “strong stances against illegal immigration and any form of amnesty for illegals.”

Congressional Leadership Fund’s ad cites screenshots of Smith’s campaign website from 2019. The News & Observer reviewed archived screenshots from that time and found she supported comprehensive immigration reform.

“Right now, taxpayers are being handed the bill,” Smith wrote on her website in April 2019. “Our broken system must be fixed.”

Some proposals for comprehensive immigration reform have included a path to legal status for those in the country illegally, but Smith didn’t specify a proposal she favored.

In December 2019, Smith expanded her platform on immigration to say that the United States needs to secure the country.

“I support President Trump’s Border Wall and strong border security, and will work with Trump to finish the wall, end chain migration, and fix the crisis on the border.”

That remains her campaign platform.

Ethics disclosures

Claim: Smith won’t follow ethics rules by disclosing her financial interests.

True.

Smith has not submitted a financial disclosure report to the U.S. House clerk.

According to the U.S. House Committee on Ethics, candidates are required to file a financial disclosure statement once their campaign has spent or raised more than $5,000. Because of when Smith qualified as a candidate in 2021, she had until May 15 to file one.

She never did.

Bankruptcy

Claim: Sandy Smith went bankrupt, owing creditors thousands.

True.

Smith filed bankruptcy in Washington state under the name Sandra Lee Auman in December 2003 and said she was in debt between $100,001 and $500,000, according to court records.

Taxes

Claim: Sandy Smith failed to pay her taxes on time.

True, in 2015.

The Pitt County Tax Department does not currently show Smith as owing any outstanding tax payments.

But a 2015 bill in her husband’s name — at the same address Smith used in her 2019 federal elections filings — shows that he owed $31.81 in interest. At the time, in North Carolina, property taxes were due in September but interest began accruing only if someone failed to pay them by Jan. 1.

Smith paid the bill 15 days later.

This story was originally published May 13, 2022 2:24 PM.

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