James ‘Smuggie’ Mitchell files his latest campaign financial reports after months of questions

James 'Smuggie' Mitchell files his latest campaign financial reports after months of questions

Mitchell is a former Charlotte City Councilman who resigned owing to a conflict of interest in January 2021 and is now running for his previous At-Large position.

The Charlotte City Council Primary is less than two weeks away, and James “Smuggie” Mitchell has finally filed his mandatory campaign finance reports, despite the fact that most of them are several years late.

When Queen City News questioned Mitchell why he hadn’t filed a single campaign financial report in three years, he explained that it was an honest error and that he would have them done by the end of the week. That interview took place in March, and no report had been filed yet.

QCN gave Mitchell a few more weeks to file the missing reports before pursuing another story. After a month went by and nothing was filed, we reached out to him again, with the same question: Why have you not filed a single campaign finance report in almost three years? Mitchell gave the same answer, he said he would have them filed within the next couple of days.

As of Friday, it’s been a month and a half since QCN started asking Mitchell these questions, and right before 5:00 pm on Friday, he filed his five missing campaign finance reports.

Tracy Marshall, Executive Director of Transparency USA, explained the importance of filing campaign finance reports.

“All candidates and elected officials, and actually active political action committees, in the state have to file with the North Carolina State Board of Elections, these reports on their finance campaign, they have to show all the donations, all the money coming in, and then in turn, they have to show how they’ve spent that money. So, the idea is to help hold politicians accountable and to give citizens an idea so they can keep an eye an eye, if you will, on the money flowing through governments, ”Marshall explained.

Marshall said she found it odd a politician with as many years of experience as Mitchell could make such a huge mistake.

“I would just say that it is rare for an active politician not to have filed reports for that long. We follow state level campaign finance in a number of key states across the nation, and I will say for an active politician to not have reports on file for three years is very rare. So, I think it’s worth asking questions for sure, “Marshall said. QCN reached out to the State Board of Elections Office, and they said Mitchell failed to file five different campaign finance reports since July of 2019. Some of the reports were from when Mitchell was still in office, prior to resigning, and some were from this campaign season.

As for the fines Mitchell could potentially accrue, they could be upwards of $ 2,000. North Carolina law does not have any other consequences, other than fines, so even if Mitchell never disclosed where his campaign money came from, he could still stay on the ballot.  

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