Two campaign contractors say Raleigh mayoral candidate Charles Francis still owes them nearly $9,000 for services they rendered during his previous bid for the city’s top office in 2017. 

“In twenty-eight years doing business, I’ve never had a client stiff me other than Charles Francis,” says Brad Crone, owner of the Raleigh-based Campaign Connections. He says Francis never paid him for a $2,530 newspaper ad he placed on the campaign’s behalf. 

“We did a first invoice right after the [2017] primary and that one was paid in full,” says Jaimey Sexton of the Chicago-baed The Sexton Group, who alleges that Francis’s campaign owes his telemarketing firm $6,463.76 for robocalls. “After the runoff [election], just silence, and I called his office repeatedly.”

Francis netted 36 percent of the vote in the three-way October 2017 election, enough to deny Mayor Nancy McFarlane a majority. Francis called for a runoff. McFarlane defeated him 58–42. 

This year, Francis announced his run the day McFarlane said she would not seek re-election

Reached Friday, Francis said he had no knowledge of the outstanding bills. 

“I don’t know the answer to that,” he said, adding that he would look into it and call back. 

An hour later, Francis’s campaign emailed a short statement: “There appears to be a misunderstanding on a set of outstanding balances from the 2017 campaign. The campaign is reviewing these issues. This matter will be resolved quickly with all parties involved.”

Right after the campaign sent that statement, Crone called to say that Francis had just called him pledging to pay his debt by July 1. Crone says Francis has made similar promises three times before. 

Campaign finance reports show that Francis spent about $425,000 on the 2017 race, including more than $55,000 of his own money. Those records also show that Francis reported spending $63,696.96 on mailers through Campaign Connections and $2,830 on robocalls through The Sexton Group.

Crone, however, says that Francis actually paid him $67,696 for mailers, and he was supposed to pay him another $2,530 to cover the cost of an ad Crone placed in The Carolinian, an African American newspaper. The ad appeared in print on October 5, 2017, according to an invoice provided to the INDY.

The ad purchase does not appear to be included in state campaign expenditure reports. 

Similarly, the invoice The Sexton Group sent to Francis puts the total amount for its services at $11,102.80, but the total amount Francis paid at $4,639.04. Even that is about $1,800 more than Francis appears to have reported in his campaign filings—and still leaves what The Sexton Group says is a $6,463.75 balance. 

State Board of Elections spokesman Patrick Gannon says that, while he cannot comment on this particular situation, the law says that “all expenditures of campaign funds must be reported.” The punishment for failing to report expenditures, he adds, would “depend on a lot of factors—whether it’s intentional, whether it was a mistake. It would depend on the outcome of an investigation, if there was an investigation.”

On Monday, Francis’s campaign manager, Conen Morgan, declined to comment on the unreported campaign expenditures. 

In an effort to collect its debt, The Sexton Group emailed Francis three times at his law firm address in March and April 2018, according to emails provided to the INDY. In the last email, on April 5, vice president Elena DiTraglia told Francis, “I just wanted to circle back on our phone conversation from last week. We totally understand your situation but wanted to see about setting up a payment plan for your outstanding invoice.”

Sexton says that when DiTraglia reached Francis over the phone, Francis “would plead poor.”

Francis, a trial attorney who founded North State Bank in 2000, listed his eight-thousand-plus-square-foot Raleigh home for $3.15 million in 2018. It has since been taken off the market and does not appear to have been sold. 

Contact staff writer Leigh Tauss at

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One reply on “Two Contractors Say Charles Francis Stiffed Them After His 2017 Campaign”

  1. None of the details regarding the campaign accounts of the other candidates has been discussed here. Why Charles (Francis, not Meeker, who has ties to this publication)?

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