Raleigh, NC — The North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBOE) yesterday cleared Representative Tim Moffitt, finding no evidence that the two-term Buncombe County legislator violated any laws or acted in any way improperly. It is the second such vindication by a state-level agency in as many months.
The SBOE had investigated a claim by Biltmore Forest resident Brian Turner — who is supported by members of Asheville City Council, including Councilman Cecil Bothwell — to unseat Moffitt. But, in a devastating rebuke of Turner, the Board said that Turner’s unsubstantiated allegations, “even when viewed in a light most favorable to [Turner’s] point of view” did nothing to suggest that Moffitt did anything wrong.
“The downtown Asheville crowd is desperate to get me out of office,” said
Representative Moffitt. “But this type of underhanded and deceitful behavior needs to stop. It takes time, energy and resources to deal with this kind of thing. It is a clear abuse of process for political purposes. If Mr. Turner wants to oppose me politically, he needs to use his campaign dollars — and not the taxpayers’.”
In March, Turner was advised by SBOE officials that his complaint would not be received favorably due to the lack of evidence supporting the allegations. Turner agreed and chose not to pursue a course of action at the time, later reversing himself when pressed on the matter by the media. In the days that followed, it was then revealed that Turner, possibly in an attempt to influence the testimony of a witness, recorded a telephone conversation with county commissioner David King without his knowledge. During that conversation, Turner admitted that making the allegations against Moffitt would be “advantageous to me in my campaign”.
“If Brian Turner is willing to secretly record telephone conversations of people he describes as ‘friends’ while he’s a candidate,” Moffitt concluded, “how can he be trusted to act honorably in office?”
Representative Moffitt has turned the matter over to his legal team to review what avenues may now be available to him. Such avenues could possibly include legal action for slander, libel, and abuse of process.
Original post May 19, 2014: The N.C. Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint against N.C. Rep. Tim Moffitt filed by his 2014 election opponent, Brian Turner. First-time candidate Turner, a Democrat, is challenging two-term Republican Moffitt in Buncombe County’s House District 116 election. Ashvegas reported details here of a conversation between Turner and Moffitt, a conversation in which Turner said Moffitt asked him to withdraw from the race. That conversation led Turner to file complaints with both the state ethics commission and the N.C. Board of Elections.
Here’s the May 13 press release from Moffitt’s office:
RALEIGH, NC — On Friday, the State Ethics Commission dismissed a complaint against Representative Tim Moffitt for lack of merit.
A complaint filed in March by Brian Turner alleges that Turner was threatened, bribed and bullied at a February 24 lunch meeting that Turner initiated with Representative Moffitt. After an exhaustive two month investigation, involving interviews with all witnesses and the review of numerous inconsistent statements by Turner, the eight-member ethics panel found Turner’s allegations to be entirely without any factual basis and ruled in favor of Moffitt.
“I knew the charges to be untrue when the complaint was filed against me in March,” said Representative Moffitt. “When you’re a Republican in elected office, it seems that such attacks are just part of the job. You have to have a thick skin. But it’s been very tough on my family.”
Turner, a resident of the exclusive Biltmore Forest community, is searching for ways to unseat Moffitt from the state House. Tim Moffitt is serving his second term representing the southern and western portions of Buncombe County.
Representative Moffitt has declined to do any fundraising or campaigning since the charges were filed, but has continued to maintain a busy legislative schedule in
Raleigh. “I didn’t feel right asking people to support my campaign while my opponent was making allegations attacking my character and integrity,” Representative Moffitt continued. “I chose not to politicize the matter out of respect for the process. Unfortunately, my opponent decided from the very beginning to take the opposite route — and sadly, he’s used these false allegations to create support and raise money.”
Turner, who personally spread the false allegations at political party meetings earlier this year, was initially hesitant to confirm the allegations to the press and stated he would not initiate a complaint. Turner later reversed himself when a local radio personality called into question the truthfulness of his claims.
Audio of a telephone conversation that Turner secretly recorded across state lines with Buncombe County Commissioner David King later surfaced in which Turner admitted that making these allegations would “be advantageous to me in my campaign.”
“It’s disappointing that my opponent participated in conduct like this,” concluded Representative Moffitt. “It shows how desperate Mr. Turner is to get into office.
Slander, libel, abuse of process — politics as usual in this area.”
The Ethics Commission is an independent, eight-member quasi-judicial panel that oversees the administration of the State Government Ethics Act. Four of the eight voting members of the commission were appointed by Democrats, four by Republicans.