A bit dog hollerin' contest

August 29, 2002 

Judge Bob Hunter of the state Court of Appeals says the judicial misconduct complaint a Republican Party activist and lawyer filed against him last week for doing outside estate work after he became a judge is a political stunt.

Hunter, a Marion Democrat running for the state Supreme Court seat held by Republican Justice Bob Orr, faces a complaint filed by Asheboro lawyer Alan Pugh with the Judicial Standards Commission.

Hunter suggests that Orr, whom the commission is investigating for political remarks he made in June at a Republican fund-raiser, prompted Pugh to do it.

Hunter notes that the day before the state Democratic Party filed the misconduct complaint that got Orr investigated, Orr told a reporter that the Democrats "will rue the day" they did it.

"This complaint against me is undoubtedly the manifestation of that statement," Hunter said.

Orr says not. He acknowledges saying Democrats would rue the day. But he says Pugh, a friend of his and the former counsel to Republican Gov. Jim Martin, undertook to file the three-page complaint on his own.

"I didn't put Mr. Pugh up to it," Orr said. "I also didn't make Judge Hunter do that estate work."

Even so, Orr and Pugh expected the Hunter complaint would bring a charge of political partisanship.

Pugh said he was motivated by professional responsibility, not partisan politics. His complaint letter said he bears Hunter "no personal animus whatsoever."

"I don't have no ax to grind," he said. "But as we say down here in the country: A bit dog always hollers. So if a dog hollers, it's because he's been bit."

Miscommunication

About 30 petitioners opposed to the United States starting a war with Iraq were turned away Wednesday from the Raleigh office of Republican U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.

Anne O'Keefe, one of the petitioners, said she had prearranged a visit because the entire group wanted to sign the office guest book and deliver the petition, signed by more than 3,000 North Carolina residents.

The visit was part of a plan in which war opponents nationwide would meet with Senate staffers in their offices.

"We wanted to show that this was not just some back-room organization," O'Keefe said. "These are real living people who are so concerned that they would take time off from their jobs and their lives to come to these meetings."

Only O'Keefe was allowed in to deliver the petition.

Marilyn Darnell, staff director in Helms' Raleigh office, said she understood that the group wanted more than just to sign the guest book. In earlier calls, O'Keefe talked about using the office phones for a conference call, Darnell said.

"We use our phones all day long to solve problems for constituents," Darnell said. "We can't be the forum for the PAC; we just can't do it. It's not lawful, and it wouldn't be fair to the constituents who need our help right now."

Endorsement and TV

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has endorsed Democrat Lawrence Davis of Raleigh in the 13th Congressional District race. The district includes parts of Raleigh, Greensboro and Burlington, and all or parts of four rural counties next to Virginia.

Davis filmed television ads Monday. His campaign manager, Perry Woods, said the campaign was getting ready to run one but wouldn't say how much time it was buying.

By staff writers Matthew Eisley and Lynn Bonner. Eisley can be reached at 829-4538 or meisley@newsobserver.com.

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