Dockham explains now-tainted campaign donations

Mar. 24, 2013 @ 06:58 AM

Two veteran area state representatives from different sides of the political aisle both offered similar explanations about how they received campaign donations from a now-disgraced sweepstakes company owner who is under arrest and charged with fraud.

Reps. Jerry Dockham, R-Davidson, and Alma Adams, D-Guilford, told The High Point Enterprise they didn’t solicit campaign donations from Chase Burns, who operated Oklahoma-based International Internet Technologies. Instead, Burns contributed to their campaigns without being asked, Dockham and Adams say.

Burns recently was arrested for a scam in the state of Florida in which he’s charged with collecting millions of dollars for himself through Internet sweepstakes operations that were supposed to involve donations for a charity benefiting military veterans.

Burns made campaign donations to Republican and Democratic candidates for office last year in North Carolina before he was arrested and charged.

Dockham, who’s from Denton, said he had no knowledge about Burns’ background when he received a $2,500 campaign contribution. Dockham said he’s weighing what to do with the $2,500 — either keep it for a future campaign or donate the amount to a charity.

“At the time (of the contribution), I didn’t know anything about him,” Dockham said Tuesday. “I knew what business he was in, but that was all. Many campaign contributions, I don’t know the people personally.”

Adams, who’s from Greensboro, offered a similar explanation for her $1,000 campaign donation from Burns.

“The contribution that my campaign received from Mr. Burns was not solicited, but simply came in the mail during the campaign.  As a matter of fact, I do not know Mr. Burns and was not aware of his business connections until it was brought to my attention after the news article was released about his arrest,” she said.

Adams said she intends to donate the $1,000 given to her campaign by Burns to a Guilford County disabled veterans group.

Three other legislators from the area — Republican Sens. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and Jerry Tillman, R-Randolph, and Democratic Sen. Gladys Robinson, D-Guilford — also accepted contributions from Burns, according to a report released Monday by Democracy North Carolina. The Enterprise contacted the three senators Monday, but hadn’t received a response from any of them as of late Tuesday afternoon.

Durham-based Democracy North Carolina indicates that Burns will end up becoming the single-largest contributor to N.C. General Assembly candidates during the two-year cycle that concluded with last fall’s general election.

Burns contributed $172,500 during the 2011-12 election cycle to 67 state legislative candidates, 63 who won seats in the current General Assembly, Democracy North Carolina reports.

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