Former Gov. Pat McCrory isn’t happy with how city administrators are dealing with a staffer who used Twitter to criticize him.
His comments follow the city’s decision on Wednesday to demote James Sauls, who had been Raleigh’s economic development manager since 2013. Last month, Sauls admitted to using the name “Hot Rod Earl” on Twitter to post comments he later said were “in no way a true reflection of who I am as a person, father, husband, son or friend.”
In one tweet, Sauls called state Sen. Phil Berger “a true piece of (excrement).” In another, he said McCrory should take his (rear) “back to Ohio.” Both are Republicans.
Sauls told conservative pundit Tomi Lahren in a tweet that he would respect her comments more if she had her breasts “out while talking.”
The tweets have been deleted, but some people captured screenshots of them.
Raleigh demoted Sauls to senior business assistance program manager Tuesday, and his annual salary fell from $97,967 to $88,170, according to the city.
In an interview Wednesday, McCrory said he was surprised the city didn’t fire Sauls.
“What does it take to lose a job in, of all places, economic development in Raleigh?” McCrory said.
“This guy’s ongoing posts were not only offensive and disrespectful, but reckless and dangerous – especially for those public officials at the receiving end,” he said.
McCrory said many politicians fear for their safety while in office because they’re subjected to heated rhetoric. He pointed to the shooting at a congressional baseball game in Virginia on Wednesday morning.
The suspected shooter belonged to an anti-Republican group called “Terminate the Republican Party.” U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana is in critical condition after the shooting.
“I’m not comparing the two,” McCrory said of the shooting and Sauls’ tweets. “But it’s just this type of rhetoric that needs to be toned down.”
Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane said she’s “very disappointed” in Sauls’ tweets but declined to comment on the demotion because it’s a personnel issue.
“I’m sure that Governor McCrory remembers from his time as mayor (of Charlotte) that things like this are a personnel issue that fall to the city manager,” McFarlane said. “That keeps politics out of these types of decisions.”
McCrory served as Charlotte’s mayor from 1995 to 2009 and was elected governor of North Carolina in 2012. He lost his re-election bid last fall to Gov. Roy Cooper, a Democrat.
Jim Greene, an assistant city manager for economic development, will work as economic development manager until Raleigh hires someone to fill Sauls’ old job, said Damien Graham, the city’s communications director.
Berger’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment.