A North Carolina legislator is questioning the credibility of an advocacy group that wrote about sexual harassment allegations against him, saying the group has personal motives for attacking him.
Gov. Roy Cooper and other Democratic Party leaders last week called on state Rep. Duane Hall, a Raleigh attorney, to resign from his District 11 House seat amid allegations that he tried to kiss two people without their consent, and acted inappropriately toward another woman.
The allegations were first detailed in a story published by NC Policy Watch, an organization that is part of the liberal advocacy group NC Justice Center. The Policy Watch story quoted five people, but some of them were anonymous.
Hall has denied the allegations and late Sunday night in an interview with WUNC and a statement accused Policy Watch of “aggressively contacting colleagues, associates and acquaintances to manufacture gossip,” suggesting the group has ulterior motives because Hall dated and then broke up with Megan Glazier, the daughter of the executive director of the Justice Center, Rick Glazier. She works at the Justice Center.
Hall asked the public to “consider the personal motives of this group in soliciting stories,” he said in the statement. “Using their power for a systemic personal attack on me is outside the scope of their charter. Minimal journalistic integrity would require them to disclose the personal relationships of their staffers involved in this story.”
One woman quoted in the Policy Watch story, Jessie White, talked to the The News & Observer before the Policy Watch story was published. She said Hall behaved inappropriately to her on three occasions. White now lives in Orlando, but used to live in North Carolina and has worked on Democratic campaigns since 2014.
Policy Watch editor Rob Schofield responded to Hall Monday afternoon in a story on the Policy Watch website, saying nothing in the group’s reporting “relates to [Megan Glazier] or her relationship with Hall in any way.” His post says the writer of the story, Billy Ball, wasn’t aware of Glazier’s relationship with Hall until he had already started his reporting process.
Ball, Schofield said, raised the issue with him and questioned whether they should offer a disclosure. Schofield said he consulted senior Policy Watch staffers before deciding to report the story without disclosing the relationship because it was “by far the best and most ethical option.”
Before publishing, Schofield said he asked Rick Glazier for his opinion and that Glazier “gave me the authorization to take whatever action I felt was appropriate with respect to publishing.”
Schofield concluded: “While we readily concede that the matter of reporting on an individual who once had a relationship with a colleague poses some potentially challenging issues of journalistic ethics, we strongly believe that in this instance, we made the right call on all fronts.”
Megan Glazier, for her part, told The N&O that she wasn’t part of the Policy Watch story.
“This new conversation is an attempt to pivot away from the larger issue of harassment,” she said. “It’s important to me to make sure we empower the voices of women who have been affected.”
Hall said in his statement that he plans to seek re-election. He’ll face two opponents in the primary on May 8.
Hall says he looks forward to earning back his constituents’ trust.
“I can’t resign from my reputation which I will defend and I won’t resign from my seat because of anonymous false accusations,” Hall said. “I won’t run away so a tiny far left element of my party can finish their attack and install a person of their choosing.”
Cooper, the NCDP, House minority leader Darren Jackson and several other Democratic legislators have called on Hall to resign. In a Facebook post Sunday night, State Rep. Verla Insko of Orange County said Hall “can’t take no for an answer.”
“This isn't an issue of he said: she said. Many witnesses saw what happened at the Equality NC event; some were directly involved,” Insko wrote.
State Rep. John Ager, a Buncombe County Democrat, called for Hall’s resignation in a social media post Monday morning.
“Hiring a Public Relations firm is not the answer,” Ager tweeted. “We can no longer tolerate the ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ attitude anywhere in our public life.”
It was not clear if Hall had hired a PR firm. Hall didn’t answer a phone call from an N&O reporter Monday.