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Cooper To Veto Elections Bill, Says It Limits Election Investigations

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Governor Roy Cooper said he will veto a wide-ranging elections bill that both restores the governor’s control of the state elections board and restricts public information regarding campaign finance investigations, among other things.

Speaking in Raleigh Monday morning, Cooper said while he was pleased the bill returned the elections board to its previous makeup, he was opposed to the new terms regarding state investigations.

“These new provisions can shield wrongdoers by adding broad confidentiality requirements, limiting those who can file a complaint, handcuffing investigators on how far back they can look, and by requiring a re-investigation by a second committee before evidence can be turned over to prosecutors,” Cooper said.

He said if lawmakers were to remove that one section in the coming days, he would sign the bill and lawmakers and staff could go home for the holidays. However, Republicans could also override Cooper’s veto any time before the New Year.

Chair of the state Democratic Party Wayne Goodwin applauded Cooper’s veto in a statement Tuesday afternoon, saying the bill compromised transparency in the midst of the investigation into alleged election fraud in the 9th Congressional District race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready.

“In the middle of the one of the most egregious election related scandals in state history, legislative Republicans inserted a measure into a wide-ranging bill that would force investigations into public officials into the shadows,” Goodwin said. “We need more sunlight, not less.”

But Republican lawmakers say Cooper’s veto holds up the 9th District investigation.

“Governor Cooper's failure to act is holding the entire Board of Elections hostage, including the NC-9 investigation, in his effort to achieve unchecked power to launch corrupt and unfounded partisan attacks on legislators," Senate leader Phil Berger said in a written statement.

“Make no mistake,” state House Rules Chairman David Lewis said, “this eventual veto will be overridden.”

In the 9th District race, unofficial results show Republican Harris leads Democrat McCready by 905 votes. The State Board of Elections has refused to certify the race until its investigation into alleged election fraud is completed. The board pushed the public hearing regarding the race to Jan. 11.

Nick de la Canal is the host of Weekend Edition on Saturday/Sunday mornings, and a reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal