Republican state Rep. Tim Moffitt of Asheville has asked the State Board of Elections to dismiss a complaint filed against him by Democrat Brian Turner, his opponent in the November election.
In the response, filed with the Board of Elections this week by attorney Roger Knight, Moffitt denies Turner's allegations that he offered to help Turner get a job at the public television station UNC-TV if he dropped out of the race. Turner filed his complaint with the board on March 13, and the board is investigating it.
The complaint stems from a Feb. 24 meeting between Moffitt and Turner at an Asheville restaurant. Moffitt has said he merely suggested that Turner would make a good candidate to head UNC-TV because of his experience as a producer at MTV and more recent work as a vice chancellor at UNC Asheville. A national search for a new UNC-TV director is expected to begin later this year.
"Rep. Moffitt did not give or promise Brian Turner any political appointment or support for public office," according to Moffitt's response.
In a sworn statement included in the response, Buncombe County Commissioner David King, who attended the meeting between the two candidates, also says Moffitt didn't give or promise Turner "any political appointment, support for political office, or for any job in the government or with UNC-TV." King, a Republican, also says in his statement that he called Turner in early March to ask why he was making false claims against Moffitt, and Turner responded, "It is good for my campaign."
In his response, Moffitt also cites comments made by Turner in an interview on an Asheville radio station. Turner, according to a transcript of the interview, told host Pete Kaliner that Moffitt didn't specifically offer a quid pro quo --"drop out, you get the job." "His approach was more nuanced than that," Turner said. Turner has said Moffitt suggested that he could potentially get UNC-TV moved to Asheville, where Turner lives. Moffitt also denied that in his response.
In the original complaint, Turner says he believes "Moffitt's offer of employment at UNC-TV in exchange for withdrawing from the race is in direct violation" of ethics and elections laws. One statute he cited makes it a misdemeanor for anyone "to give or promise, in return for political support or influence, any political appointment or support for political office."
Moffitt, a two-term legislator, and Turner, who is running for office for the first time, are competing for House District 116, which includes parts of Buncombe County.