The tale of the voice mail: The plot thickens in NCGOP-Davidson Co. GOP tiff

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We reported earlier on an uproar in Davidson County about filling a vacant state House seat.  State Rep. Jerry Dockham (R), the area’s legislator since the 90s, resigned to take an appointment to the NC Utilities Commission.

Under state law and GOP bylaws, local Republican leaders in the state House district had to nominate someone to finish out Dockham’s unexpired term. THAT is where the “fun” began:

Local Republicans say a voice mail left by a North Carolina Republican Party official further confirms a Davidson County man was denied his right to participate in the vote to replace former House Rep. Jerry Dockham.

Thomasville resident Dwight Story was one of six Davidson County Republican Party Executive Committee members eligible to participate in the vote to replace Dockham, who recently took a position with the N.C. Utilities Commission.

However Story, who was traveling with a church group in Wytheville, Va., was not allowed to contribute after other eligible members voted 3-2 on July 11 not to allow him to cast a ballot via telephone.

Holly Grove resident Roger Younts, who cast one of the three ballots against Story voting by telephone, was eventually selected to replace Dockham, also by a 3-2 vote. Younts, the county party’s treasurer, also voted for himself.

Gov. Pat McCrory confirmed Younts last week, and he will serve the remainder of Dockham’s term, which expires in 2014.

A voice mail obtained from Story’s phone shows that he was scheduled to vote in the proceedings. The nearly 25-second message, left by NCGOP Political Director Kim Canady, was recorded on Story’s phone on the morning of July 11, hours before the meeting to replace Dockham.

“I am the one that you will be talking to, and I will be calling you tonight to take your vote over the phone,” Canady said in the message.

Story said Canady never called him to take his vote or tell him that he would not be voting after eligible members motioned for him not to be included. However, he said Canady did call him last week, to apologize for what happened.

HoustonRaleigh, we have a problem.  Story seemed to be rather willing to forgive and forget about the episode.  Others DID NOT: 

“It really didn’t upset me, because I’ve been in politics long enough to know that things do happen,” Story said on Tuesday. “It was assured that I would have an opportunity to vote by phone, but there was a motion made to exclude me from voting by phone.”

Some rather interesting details were passed on to me by folks who were at the meeting.  Reportedly, representatives of The Red Dome  political consulting group — closely tied to operatives at NCGOP HQ — were at the meeting.  According to my sources, the Red Dome reps appeared to be active supporters of Younts and his efforts to gain the appointment to the House seat.  I was also informed by sources on the ground that Canady was set to — shortly after this meeting — take a paid position with the Thom Tillis for US Senate campaign.  MORE: 

Canady and NCGOP general counsel Michael McKnight traveled to Lexington to oversee the voting procedure, which followed the party’s plan of organization, Robert’s Rules of Order and a set of meeting rules voting members approved.

Some local Republicans, including county party chairman Lance Barrett, became upset after the vote to select Dockham’s replacement, mostly because they thought Story was denied his right. Barrett said he spoke with Canady as well as voting members, including Younts, who all said they would be agreeable with Story voting by phone.

Younts said last week he did talk with Barrett, but never indicated his stance on Story voting.

Barrett said the voice mail to Story only further indicates that eligible voting members made a conscious decision to exclude him from the process.

“Sometime between that morning and that night, they got together and changed their mind,” Barrett said. “From the beginning, it was not that Roger recused himself that was so troubling to so many people, it was the fact that Dwight was prevented from participating in the vote.”

GOP members trade barbs

Former Wallburg Town Councilman Gary Craver, who voted for Younts’ appointment and against Story participating via telephone, said proxy voting is generally prohibited in the North Carolina Republican Party Plan of Organization.

Craver also said that some party members, including Barrett and former chairman David Rickard, have prohibited telephone voting in the past, including during the appointment of Davidson County Sheriff David Grice.

Hmmm.  But evidence suggests that an NCGOP official had approved a vote via telephone.  MORE: 

The party’s executive committee selected Grice over several candidates in June 2004 after an interview process. Rickard, who was chairman at the time, said one committee member, Linda Ferguson, did not participate in the interview process or the vote because she was out of town.

“There was no vote ever taken as to whether she wanted to vote or not, and that was left up to Linda,” Rickard said. “She bowed out gracefully.”

Younts was one of six candidates vying to fill Dockham’s seat, including Davidson County Commissioner and general contractor Sam Watford, who received two votes at the meeting.

Craver contended that the real reason so many Republicans are upset is because Watford was not selected to replace Dockham.

“The only thing that caused all this is because Lance Barrett didn’t get the person he wanted in the job and he shamed the whole Republican Party by the way he acted,” Craver said.

Barrett said that’s not the case.

“It’s not a Roger Younts-Sam Watford issue,” Barrett said. “It’s a procedural issue with how it was handled by the NCGOP and an issue of not letting Dwight Story vote.”

I wasn’t present for this affair. But from what I’ve seen and heard, it looks bad.

Instead of rushing the approval of this matter and seating Younts — party officials in Raleigh SHOULD have slow-walked this thing and taken time to address local concerns. What was the hurry?

Unfortunately, it looks like we’ve got another troubling chapter in an on-going saga of apparent heavy-handed tactics by NCGOP leaders against local party leaders.  

8 thoughts on “The tale of the voice mail: The plot thickens in NCGOP-Davidson Co. GOP tiff

  1. What is glaring that the fix was in is that the meeting was called to order without Story. Canady had to be in on that fix to have failed to call Story as the meeting opened. With Story online, then the vote to deprive him of his vote would have failed on a 3-3 tie. Canady was CLEARLY up to her eyeballs in rigging this vote. Canady had accepted a job with Tillis, and would certainly not do that unless Tillis approved it, especially since this was a seat in the House where Tillis was Speaker.

    Republican activists need to demand that Tillis fire Canady, and if he does not, then this should be made an issue in the primary.

    The other question is – where was the NCGOP leadership in this fiasco? The party’s General Counsel also seems to be a willing participant in this scam. Since that position was filled by virtual appointment rather than an open election, the General Counsel is also a flunky of the state chairman.

  2. Raphael, I commend you for two things…1. Usually saying something I agree with and on point with the story. and…2. almost without fail being the first to comment.
    Now I am faced with disagreeing…about Thillis should fire Canady. I agree she should be. But it wont happen. Because that would be admitting there were ‘shenanigans’. But look at the bright side…if Thillis did let her go, he would SURELY find a way to compensate her with twenty or thirty thousand bucks in severance like he did his unethical aides of late.

    1. You are right that Tillis will strongly resist firing Canady. The only way to make it happen is to make her so radioactive that he has no choice. That means party activists going public about the crap she has been up to, such as this Davidson County vote rigging. I suspect there will be help from other places. Her name has come up in both the Craven and Beaufort controversies, and she has been caught fibbing in at least one of those.

  3. One other angle on this that is glaring, and that is the way Canady sandbagged Story. Story had a conflict between his church trip and the vote for the legislative seat. Canady told him he could do both by voting by phone, so he left on the trip. Once, he was gone, there would not have been a way to get back in time to vote in person. Canady pulled an extremely dirty and dishonest political stab in the back. Then, by not calling Story before the meeting opened, it became clear that she never intended to let him vote.

    Canady was a new hire by the Tillis campaign at the time but still working for the NCGOP. Usually people in such positions are more loyal to their new boss than their old boss. Tillis, given what we have seen with such things as his tiffs with Rep. Pittman and Rep.Brawley, is a control freak. With a seat in the legislative house he presides over at stake, there is little doubt that he stuck his hand into the pie by way of Canady.

    The other question is why the NCGOP allowed Canady to continue to function in capacities like this once they knew she had agreed to join Tillis’ campaign. If the party is to remain neutral, then having an incoming campaign staffer for one of the primary candidates remain on the party staff is a huge conflict of interest. Canady should have been given her walking papers immediately. At the very least, she should not have touched anything where Tillis might have had a dog in the fight.

    The other question with the NCGOP is the role of the General Counsel, who was rammed through at the State Executive Committee into his position by Chairman Pope and is totally Pope’s man. Canady was a holdover from Hayes, who was clearly a Tillis cheerleader, but the General Counsel comes from the new regime. Did Canady just not tell him everything she was up to and he never figured it out on his own, or at NCGOP is the new boss same as the old boss?

    1. To eliminate a bit of confusion, y’all are speaking past tense with respect to her employment at State HQ…..she’s still there. She better think twice about jumping ship,because if Tillis gets by the Primary, he won’t win in November. Too many GOP county parties mad at him for that.

      1. You’re right. This could be short term employment. On the other hand, working for Hayes and Pope seems kind of like the same thing as working for Tillis. I’m having a hard time seeing the lines of division when I consider my experiences with these folks. Is it just me?

  4. The Red Dome connection here is interesting. Consulting firms usually do not work at this level, and they could have been hired from three possible sources: 1) the candidate, 2) NCGOP, 3) the Tillis organization. Unless the candidate is particularly wealthy, it is no likely that he did the firing.

    The article mentions that Red Dome had worked in the past for NCGOP, so that might point the finger at them. However, that would be an extremely inappropriate expenditure, and I think it extremely unlikely. The party connection of this firm is more likely what motivated those who brought them in, as the firm would have a working relationship with Canady from past work.

    The more likely suspect is Tillis, and motivated by his control freak nature. They are not Tillis’ usual consultants, but it is a regular game for consulting firms to subcontract with other consultants to try to hide the real source of their hiring.

    Kim Canady was a hire from the Robin Hayes era, and it would be better if Pope did not circle to wagons to defend such critters. Nor should Pope be covering for Tillis. If he really wants to unite the party, he will take strong steps to deal with this sort of crap. That also includes in other counties taking steps to deal with legislative recruitment meddling by Raleigh, and meddling in county BOE appointments. Those are all headaches he seems to have inherited from Hayes, and Pope needs to come down on the side of the grassroots across the board to clear the air.

  5. Now Rusher is out and Todd Poole is in as Executive Director at the NCGOP. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss…

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