by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
A man who sold a plot of land for double its assessed value to Democrat congressional candidate Dan McCready later made two donations to the campaign.
McCready, who turns 36 next week, is the party’s nominee in a special congressional election for North Carolina’s 9th District. In 2016, he purchased a parcel of land from John Leekley in Rutherford County for $1.2 million, more than double the assessed value in tax records. Although tax assessments do not always reflect market or transactional values, McCready also appears to have undervalued the property on his 2018 congressional campaign finance disclosure, an action that is now drawing scrutiny from a D.C.-based ethics watchdog.
Records from Rutherford County show a sale in 2016 of the tract of land comprised of about 524 acres from Leekley to DL Land Ventures, LLC, a limited liability company formed by McCready. The sale price was $1,214,500. Tax records from 2017 and 2018 for the plot show a “real value” assessment of $577,300. The latest property summary shows the 2019 appraised value of land at $593,300, according to a county revenue website. …
… Leekley, who owns properties in North Carolina and Michigan, has now become a political supporter of McCready, making a series of donations to the Democrats special election campaign. He made his first $1,000 donation to McCready in December of 2018 after election irregularities emerged that would lead authorities to dismiss the Nov. 2018 tally. Leekley’s second donation of $1,000 came in March of this year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.
With the exception of a 2002 donation to Michigan Democrat John Dingell, Leekley has reliably been a Republican donor, giving to Paul Ryan, George W. Bush, and John McCain, among others. Efforts to reach Leekley by phone, email, and regular mail were either unsuccessful or not returned.