NC-09: State election chaos upends Columbus County sheriff’s race


State efforts to block certification of local races in the Ninth Congressional District have bled over to a local race in the neighboring Seventh District.

 Apparently, the state board of elections is asking for a de-certification of the disputed November  2018 sheriff’s race in Columbus County, where incumbent Democrat Lewis Hatcher was upset by Republican Jody Greene by 37 votes. 

Greene was sworn in on December 3.  There have been all kinds of personnel changes in the department since then. 

Apparently, there are issues there with absentee ballots.  And, apparently, there had been sightings of McRae Dowless — the alleged villain in the Robeson and Bladen investigations — in the county during the election.  (Greene, the Republican, was apparently also a client of Red Dome Group — which also worked with Mark Harris.) 

The state board has ruled that former sheriff Hatcher needs to be reinstalled until this can all be straightened out.  And Hatcher has agreed to resume his service to the county, if asked.  

That’s not the only problem.  There is apparently some serious evidence that Greene — the apparent victor in November — may not have been a legal resident of Columbus County.

Media accounts on this issue differ:

There’s no power hookup, there’s no trash service and the owner of a property in Cerro Gordo is not paying any taxes for structures associated with this property, according to Columbus County tax records.

Yet newly elected Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene claimed that property along Page Mill Road as his primary residence when he signed up to run to be the chief law enforcement official in that community.

In multiple conversations, Greene has been unable to provide a clear explanation as to why this is the case. The revelation could derail a fledgling administration as the sheriff is required by state law to live in the county he or she serves.

Property tax records dated as late as December of this year for that address indicate there is no structure that has been assessed on that property. Neighboring properties for other homeowners however do include property taxes relating to structures.

Additionally, Duke Energy told reporters the property Greene has listed as his residence is not associated with any power service account, and the neighboring address only has a commercial account which has had minimal power usage, and none at all in some recent months.

Inklings Greene may not live in the county were the basis for a protest that challenges the legitimacy of the recently certified election in which Greene ousted incumbent Lewis Hatcher, winning by 37 votes.[…]

North Carolina General Statute 162-2 states that to serve as a county sheriff, one must have resided in that county for one full year prior to the general election.

In a phone conversation with a reporter, Greene stated the Page Mill Road address has been his primary residence, but when asked if he had a home on the 50-acre property, he chose to clarify that it was a “dwelling.” A camper is visible from the property line, but Greene stated that is where his dogs live. From public property outside the area, sheds, farm buildings and that camper are noticeable, but nothing that appeared to be a home.

We asked Columbus County property tax workers if it was possible Greene had moved a trailer to his property and could be living out of that since there were no structures or dwellings listed on county records at the address in question. They said he would have had to set up trash services and he had not. Greene said he lives nearly half a mile off the road and did not want to haul his trash to the road, which is why he did not initiate trash services.

After being unable to confirm visually that a dwelling appeared on the property, a reporter contacted Greene again to try to clarify his residency.

“I’m going to end this conversation. Next time you call, I’ll forward you to my attorney,” Greene said, adding that he expected privacy at his personal residence. WECT routinely interviews elected officials at their homes, including former sheriffs of Columbus County.[…]

And then, there’s THIS:

The investigation into Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene’s residence continues.

Today WWAY learned Sheriff Greene has been following proper tax rules.

In a story you saw only on WWAY last night, Greene and his wife say they live in camper on property they own in Cerro Gordo, where tax records show there is no house.

County tax officials say a camper must be registered under the county’s personal property account, unless that camper has license plates.

Then it must be registered with the DMV. Sheriff Greene says his camper is registered to his South Carolina beach house, so it does not need to be under the Columbus County Tax Office.[…]

Wait. So, the sheriff of Columbus County, NC lives in a camper registered in Horry County, South Carolina?  (Is the camper, by chance, DOWN BY THE RIVER?)

MORE:

Columbus County records show that Greene has been paying the required property taxes on his three properties in the county.

Other evidence cited as proof the couple does not live in the county is that the Greenes do not have trash service at their property.

The tax administrator says each resident is supposed to sign up for trash pick-up. But he said it is common for residents to misunderstand that expectation, and there is no penalty.

[…]

Okay.  One driveby media station quotes Greene as saying “his dogs” live in the camper on the property while he and his wife live elsewhere on the property.  Another says Greene and his wife live in the camper.

For what it’s worth, the tax records in neighboring Robeson County indicate the existence of a Lumberton residence in the name of Greene’s wife.

State board of elections records indicate Mrs. Greene voted in Robeson County as late as 2016, as a Democrat.  She voted absentee one-stop in 2018 as a Republican in Columbus County.

It’s amazing to listen to all of these politicos express shock and awe over ballot harvesting in southeastern North Carolina.  It’s been happening there for decades. 

If you’re de-certifying the Columbus sheriff’s race over absentee ballots, you’re also calling into question votes for every other race on the ballot in that jurisdiction.  

Allegations surfaced in 2016 about Bladen County that were pretty much identical to the 2018 allegations.  The current state board chairman, Josh Malcolm, was on the state board of elections then and bent over backwards to poo-poo and dismiss them.  After all, they were damaging to Roy Cooper.

But in 2018, when the same thing may end up embarrassing and hurting the GOP, Malcolm is all in on the concept of a thorough investigation.  Roy Cooper taints the integrity of this whole ordeal by allowing Malcolm to sit in oversight of it all. 

Is there really ANYBODY out there honestly looking out for the integrity of our elections?

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