Emails released to the WECT investigative team show UNC Wilmington officials made several attempts over the last year and a half to receive final payment of just under $4,000 from campaign officials for then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump after an August 2016 rally at Trask Coliseum.
Payment wasn't received until last week after WECT reached out to GOP officials to inquire about the holdup. An official with the Trump campaign told WECT two checks were ultimately written but the official couldn't explain exactly why the final payment never made it to the university.
The rally cost UNCW a little more than $27,000 with that final elusive payment totaling $3,899.25.
Public emails requested under North Carolina law show communication back and forth between Trump campaign official Justin Caporale and university officials beginning in August 2016. Caporale indicated payment was approved and should have been submitted in October.
After not receiving the check, Caporale said it had been "submitted for payment" in January 2017. Emails show communication ultimately ceased after February and at least one university official wondered if the bill would be left with the UNCW College Republicans, who co-sponsored the rally with the Trump campaign.
A collection specialist worked unsuccessfully to get the final payment before the end of the fiscal year at the end of June.
"I have made several attempts to reach out by phone and email to Justin Caporale to no avail," Linda Padezadin, Collection Specialist at UNCW said in a June email to UNCW Chief of Staff Bradley Ballou.
Ballou responded later in the month that he had another avenue to recover the payment, but didn't elaborate.
As late as October last year, Ballou insisted the university was still trying to recover payment. There was no further communication on the issue
WECT started looking into any outstanding payments from presidential campaigns last month. Several emails to the UNCW College Republicans from WECT were not answered, but campaign officials did get in touch with the university about payment shortly after our inquiries began.
The university received final payment last Wednesday.
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