The leader of the N.C. Republican Party urged a Wake County Board of Elections member to appoint his cousin as chairman of the board, according to emails released this week.
Records show Dallas Woodhouse, the state GOP’s executive director, sent an email to a private account of board member Ellis Boyle on Aug. 7. Woodhouse asked Boyle to give the reins of the board to his cousin, Eddie Woodhouse, who the state appointed to the board that day.
Dallas Woodhouse also asked Boyle to delay any vote on a plan to expand early voting from 10 to 17 days, as required under a court ruling that applies statewide.
The board didn’t grant either request, and Boyle chastised Dallas Woodhouse for discussing public business through Boyle’s work email account instead of an elections-board account.
“As I am sure someone in your position and with your experience can appreciate, I consider public records to be very important to the transaction of the business of a public body on behalf of its constituents,” Boyle responded.
“To that end, I use my board email account for all of my public business on behalf of the Wake County Board of Elections, not my work or private email addresses,” he continued. “If you would like to correspond with me in writing about board business in the future, please use my board email account.”
The emails, requested by The News & Observer, were released by the Wake County communications office.
The Wake elections board is responsible for conducting elections in the county, setting early-voting sites and times, establishing election precincts, canvassing and certifying cast ballots. The board is run by a three-member panel appointed by the N.C. Board of Elections.
Boyle, a Republican who used to work as a public safety official in Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration, was elected chairman of the Wake elections board during a meeting Aug. 8.
Eddie Woodhouse, who works in the state Department of Agriculture, has less board experience than Boyle and Mark Ezzell, the lone Democrat on the board.
“Let’s let our new member review the revised plan and if needed make a few suggestions,” Dallas Woodhouse wrote to Boyle the day before the meeting, referring to Eddie.
Boyle and Ezzell rejected motions by Eddie Woodhouse to eliminate Sunday early-voting hours as well as a voting site at N.C. State University.
It comes less than a week after GOP spokeswoman Kami Mueller wrote a letter to The News & Observer referring to Dallas’ actions as “transparent.”
Dallas, reached by phone Thursday, said he knew the public would see the email at some point and wasn’t trying to operate under the radar.
“I sent it to the only email address I had,” he said.
Dallas defended his request for his cousin to serve as chairman of the elections board.
“It’s not about helping my cousin, it’s about our problems with Ellis,” Dallas said.
Even though Boyle is a Republican, he “generally has been unresponsive to any thoughts from the party,” Dallas added. “The party’s position was that there needed to be new blood in the chair’s seat.”
Dallas said the Wake County GOP has expressed growing concern for Boyle’s votes, something Wake party spokesman Charles Hellwig confirmed.
“It’s fair to say there has been frustration from the local party’s perspective on some of Mr. Boyle’s votes,” Hellwig said.