The North Carolina Association of Educators says the campaign of state Rep. Tom Murry has paid for and distributed material that falsely claims the education group endorsed the candidate.
An attorney for the NCAE sent a letter to the state Board of Elections on Tuesday. The letter said paid workers on Election Day handed out “look-alike” cards to voters in Cary and Apex, where Murry, a Republican, represents District 41.
The NCAE hands out cards with an image of an apple and a list of endorsed candidates. The cards say the group endorsed Gale Adcock, a Democrat, in District 41.
The “look-alike” cards also have an apple image and state that they were paid for by the NC Healthy Leadership Committee, which is Murry’s committee. The cards read, “Please vote for these candidates who support our teachers and work on legislation supported by the North Carolina Association of Educators.”
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The cards list Murry and Reps. John Szoka and Chris Whitmire.
Szoka represents District 45 in Cumberland County. The NCAE did not endorse a candidate in that district. Whitmire represents District 113 in Henderson, Polk and Transylvania counties. The NCAE endorsed challenger Norm Bossert in the race.
A consultant for Murry’s campaign referred questions about the cards to Murry. Murry could not be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Michael Weisel, a partner for Bailey & Dixon, a law firm representing the NCAE, said he thinks the Murry campaign cards violate campaign rules.
“I don’t think there can be any doubt that is an attempt to appear to be NCAE,” Weisel said of the cards.
Weisel said Murry’s campaign also has had people wear red T-shirts in support of teachers. The NCAE has a “dress in red” initiative in which people wear red shirts to support educators.
Weisel said the Murry shirts are “clearly mimicking the NCAE shirts.”
The NCAE tried Tuesday to inform voters about its endorsed candidates at the polls and through social media to eliminate any confusion, said spokesman Tim Crowley.
“I think that was the most critical thing this morning – that the truth was out there,” he said.