Local or federal: Taylor fails to comply to regulations

In addition to the numerous banking and ethics violations attributed to Representative Charles Taylor’s (R-11) Asheville-based Blue Ridge Savings Bank, the Congressman has also been found in violation of several FEC regulations, Asheville housing and zoning codes and occupancy permits.

Taylor’s opponent, Highlands attorney John Armor has enumerated Taylor’s many inconsistencies in his personal asset filings, but Taylor also has filed inaccurate FEC campaign finance reports, as well as used campaign funds for personal expenses.

According to the Mountain Express, from 2000 to 2004, in violation of Federal Election laws, Taylor’s campaign funds were used to pay property taxes on a house he owned privately. A report Taylor filed with the FEC April 15, 2004 lists a $2,761.46 payment to the Buncombe County Tax Department, who would not reveal who made the payment. Taylor spokeswoman Deborah Potter called the tax payment a “bookkeeping error,” adding that the campaign was reimbursed and the FEC forms revised. However, there is no record that those forms have been modified.

Taylor purchased the house from the campaign March 1998 and the tax payment has been listed on FEC campaign reports every year since. No mention of reimbursement or revised forms.

The house has been the center of disputes since its purchase. The campaign originally bought the building in 1997 and Charles Taylor’s signature is on the application for a permit to use it as a “home-based office” in September. However, that neighborhood is zoned only for home office where the primary use of the building is as a residence. So, the permit to use it for the campaign was denied in December 1997. However, the Taylor campaign continued to use the building. After site visits and examination of the water bills, it was determined by the Planning Board to be used solely as an office. The city sent notices of violations, the city threatening Taylor with a $100-a-day fine.

Throughout the wrangling that followed between Taylor’s lawyer and city officials, it was discovered that Taylor had never applied for a required housing certificate. Finally, Taylor bought the home. His lawyer told the Asheville Citizen-Times he would rent the property as a home. He still does not have a housing certificate for it, in violation of the city’s housing code.

In addition to campaign finance reports, the FEC requires separate reports on personal assets, which indicate during this time the house as an asset, also in opposition to Taylor’s campaign filings that the house’s property taxes were a campaign expense.

The FEC has said they will not investigate unless someone files a complaint against Taylor. Even then the complaint would be reviewed before a decision was made as to whether to take further action.

[NOTE: Obviously, there are many areas of follow-up here. But that can be said of nearly every time one begins to investigate Taylor's activities.]