Politics & Government

After false post that Democrats will ‘make child abuse legal,’ official resigns

A county elections board member who falsely claimed in a Facebook post that Democrats plan to legalize pedophilia resigned Tuesday, according to the state Republican Party. She had faced possible removal from office.

The removal of Cornelia Cree from the Haywood County Board of Elections was on the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement’s agenda for Wednesday after she made the Facebook comment last month. A letter to Cree says that she may have violated a state law that bans election officials from making public statements that support or oppose political candidates.

According to a screenshot in the elections board’s agenda packet, Cree wrote on Facebook that Democrats wanted to block the nomination of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in order to “make child abuse legal” so they could win votes from Catholics by stopping lawsuits against the Catholic Church over pedophile priests.

“The Democrats push open borders because the largest group of illegals are Catholic which statistically vote Democrat,” she added. A separate Facebook post from Cree urged people to “vote Republican.”

Cree is a Republican appointee to the Haywood elections board, but the N.C. Republican Party is supporting her ouster. “For the record, the North Carolina Republican Party denounces these comments and do not believe they are proper for a member of a local board of elections to make,” NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse wrote in a letter to the state elections board.

“Ms. Cree’s September 18, 2018 post impugns the character of members of the Democrat party by unequivocally stating that they support the legalization of pedophilia. Furthermore, one could read the entire post as a bigoted rant against members of the Roman Catholic Church and Hispanic/Latino immigrants. This in turn calls into question whether or not Ms. Cree is a person of ‘good moral character.’”

For her part, Cree sent a letter to the elections board’s attorney questioning when she was informed about the law prohibiting political statements; he replied with copies of forms she’d signed acknowledging the laws. Her Facebook posts remained online as of Monday.

Also on the election board’s agenda for Wednesday: An investigation into possible campaign finance violations by Rep. Rodney Moore, a Mecklenburg County Democrat.

The Charlotte Observer reported that elections board investigators were looking into $10,000 in alleged unreported campaign contributions and were seeking Moore’s bank records. He told the Observer that “I guess I’m just a bad bookkeeper or something.”

Moore lost his primary and will not be on the ballot next month.

The elections board has removed from its agenda a campaign finance investigation of Sen. Ralph Hise, a Mitchell County Republican, after Hise sought a delay and WBTV reported that investigators had not yet completed their work.

The state elections board has been investigating since last year a complaint claiming that Hise illegally took money from his campaign account and violated laws requiring full disclosure of campaign contributors. The complaint was filed by Greg Flynn, who has since been appointed as a Democratic member of the Wake County Board of Elections.

On Monday, Hise’s opponent, Democrat David Wheeler, criticized the delay on Twitter. He tweeted that the elections board’s “senior staff are corrupt. I’m calling for federal investigation into @RalphHise matter ... A complaint was filed March 2017 and it still has not been resolved. I smell a rat.”

As first reported by the NC Insider, Hise had been seeking to delay the hearing, citing the fact that his former campaign treasurer — his mother — is in the hospital battling cancer.

Hise’s attorney, Steven Long, had written that Hise’s campaign “cannot make a full and fair representation to the board without the testimony of the committee treasurer.” Long noted that Shirley Hise was the person responsible for calculating the senator’s mileage reimbursement payments, “which are the center of the board’s inquiry.”

Elections board chairman Andy Penry, a Democrat, had initially replied that he would put the request for a delay on the Oct. 17 board agenda but that state law requires that “matters such as this be resolved expeditiously.” He had told Long to bring a doctor’s note confirming Shirley Hise’s condition along with information about when she’ll be able to testify.

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