Governor McCrory Appoints Baker to NC State Board of Elections
Raleigh, N.C. — Governor Pat McCrory announced today that he has appointed James L. Baker to the North Carolina State Board of Elections. Baker is a former Superior Court Judge and a member of the Madison County Board of Commissioners.
Baker served as Superior Court Judge in the 24th Judicial District from 1994 through 2010. In 2012 he was elected to the Madison County Commission. He has also served as an Assistant District Attorney and as the Acting Madison County Manager and was appointed to serve as Vice Chairman of the North Carolina Innocence Commission.
Baker and his wife live in Marshall, N.C. They have two daughters.
Our next Executive Committee Meeting of 2015 will be on Tuesday, September 1st at 6:30 PM. We are back to meeting at the Agricultural Extension Office in Marshall (County Fairgrounds). We have the FIRST Tuesday of every month reserved there. Come out an meet your new Executive Committee, hear from our Republican Commissioners and State Representatives.
We held our 2015 Precinct Meetings and Concurrent County Convention this morning in Madison County. This was a very successful Convention.
Your newly elected County GOP Officers are:
Chairman: Jesse Sigmon
Vice-Chairman: Gerald Davis
Secretary: Elizabeth Tilley
Treasurer: Roberta Lewis
Asst. Treasurer: Gail Davis
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!…please welcome and support these folks.
And I personally want to say thank you to everyone for your support and kind words today and over the past 6 years. Thank you for the card and the gift. Ya’ll are the greatest. It was an honor to serve you all and the great citizens of Madison County.—Matthew Wechtel, Former Chairman
What the Associated Press Refused to Print in its Misleading and Factually Incorrect Attack on Governor McCrory
“The governor has done everything in a proper and ethical manner. This is a classic example of partisan drive-by journalism that deliberately misrepresents the facts. The AP is making reckless accusations through anonymous people about laws that they cannot cite.” – Josh Ellis, Communications Director
AP CLAIM: “McCrory and Sanford deny they did anything improper by accepting the payments from Tree.com, which were not fully described in their ethics statements.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: Governor McCrory properly filled out his ethics statement as required by law. That source of income was previously listed in another part of the 2014 SEI form; therefore, the form is in compliance with the State Ethics Act (See NCGS 138A-24A3).
AP CLAIM: “However, more than a dozen securities lawyers and ethics experts told The Associated Press that such stock payouts are uncommon for elected officials, and raise significant concerns. These experts gave differing opinions about whether laws were broken.
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: What “securities lawyers” and what “ethics experts?” Name them. Not one “expert” was named. These same “experts” said that such stock payouts are uncommon, but it’s the standing board policy of Tree.com to make these payouts. Do these “experts” know that this was Tree.com’s policy? Doesn’t sound like it. And as the AP says itself, this was payment that was in fact ENTITLED. More importantly, the AP event contradicts itself saying, “Early vesting of restricted shares for departing directors is not unheard of in the corporate world.”
AP CLAIM: “AP reported that McCrory, a Duke retiree, held stock in the company as his administration made key regulatory decisions involving his former employer. Those decisions are now the subject of a federal criminal investigation.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: This is an outrageous accusation and this is absolutely incorrect – it is a false statement and was printed and published with malice. The AP is saying that the governor is under federal investigation and that is 100% false. Neither the governor nor anyone he hired has been subpoenaed as part of this investigation.
AP CLAIM: “McCrory declined requests for an interview. In a written statement McCrory spokesman Josh Ellis said the governor fully complied with state law and “continues to uphold high ethical standards.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: The AP reporter who wrote this story had dozens of chances to interview the governor. On one single occasion after letting the governor’s office know about this story, he had 15 minutes of the governor’s time with 3-4 other reporters where he asked two questions that weren’t related to this story.
AP CLAIM: “North Carolina officials are required to disclose their business dealings and their sources of compensation on annual ethics forms. Knowingly providing false information or concealing sources of income is potentially punishable by removal from office and up to eight months in prison.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: What the AP fails to mention here is that the governor did nothing wrong, nor has anyone accused him of doing anything wrong, and he fully complied with state ethics laws.
AP CLAIM: “In a statement, Ellis said that under state law, the governor wasn’t required to disclose his cash compensation from Tree.com because he had disclosed his company stock holdings earlier on the form. As for the other omissions, Ellis said the instructions on the ethics forms were unclear.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: The governor answered the question (19a) correctly as it was plainly written. The State Ethics Commission recognized that the form needed to be changed and voted at the last commission meeting to rephrase the question on the 2015 SEI form.
AP CLAIM: “McCrory also rebuffed calls earlier this year to disclose the full value of Duke Energy stock he owned following the Dan River coal ash spill.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: The governor properly disclosed what he was required to by state law.
AP CLAIM: “Despite his Tree.com payments, McCrory did not recuse himself from naming the state banking director in the weeks before receiving his special dividend, or from naming eight commissioners to the regulatory agency 18 days later. In addition to licensing mortgage brokers, the commission investigates complaints, which are kept secret under state law unless they result in discipline.”
WHAT THE AP LEFT OUT: The governor didn’t need to recuse himself as per state law. Instead, the AP is implying through shifty wordsmithing and editing – that the Governor took actions that benefitted Tree.com – another example of irresponsible drive-by journalism. Further, the governor re-appointed the chair, which was appointed by the previous Democratic governor, and he has over 40 years of banking experience. See what the former Democratic governor who appointed Ray Grace had to say about Commissioner Grace: http://www.nccob.gov/public/docs/News/Press%20Releases/Grace_nomination_press_release.pdf
Congratulations to Dyatt Smathers and Ray Lewis on their new positions with the Madison County Board of Elections. Ray Lewis was sworn in by the Honorable Jim Baker as the newest Board Member on Wednesday, June 11th. Ray’s first action was to nominate Dyatt Smathers as the new Chairman of the Board and Ray was then nominated to fill Dyatt’s former Secretary position. We look forward to the upcoming elections in November.
The voters of Madison County will have quite a unique opportunity in the 2014 election cycle. Rarely does a community have a chance to send a message that corruption in public office will not be tolerated.
Since I arrived in WNC in January 2012, I’ve heard horror stories of the political machinations in Madison County. Some folks wear this almost as a badge of honor.
We’ll all find out just how proudly that badge is worn next year, when John Ledford attempts to win back a badge of his own.
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times: Just days after news spread of John Ledford’s dismissal from the Alcohol Law Enforcement Agency, the former Madison County Sheriff made another announcement — he will run for his old office in 2014. Ledford, a Democrat, was Madison County Sheriff before he was appointed Director of ALE. He was named to the post by Democratic former Gov. Bev Perdue in 2009.
But when Republican Pat McCrory won the gubernatorial race in 2012, Ledford asked for a demotion to a field agent. He got that demotion, according to a scathing memo from the new NC Department of Public Safety Commissioner, Frank Perry, by breaking the law.
This conduct, the letter states, stems from a 2012 request by Ledford to be reassigned from law enforcement director to an agent position. At the time, according to the letter, the only open position, budgeted at $39,198, was in Wilmington.
Perry states that Ledford requested top pay for “advanced” competency level. “You then, in effect, recommended approval of your own request by signing the personnel action clearance form in your capacity as division director,” the letter states. Perry said the request was then “confirmed” by Chief Operating Officer Mikael Gross, rather than the deputy director, deviating from the correct procedure. “Not only did this procedure result in approval of a request that should not have been approved, it also resulted in approval of excessive salary ($65,887.00) thereby making you the highest-paid special agent in the division.”
There were no vacant positions in Asheville, according to Perry. Ledford says he was dismissed for “political reasons.” Apparently, following the law is now considered to be a political thing. I’d be more willing to believe Ledford’s explanation, if not for a little issue that popped up last June (which I believe comes before the month of November – and, as such, before the election of the Republican Governor).
From WRAL: Officials in the state Department of Public Safety repeatedly blocked attempts by state auditors to investigate a complaint that two high-ranking Division of Alcohol Law Enforcement officers were misusing their state-owned vehicles, according to an audit released Tuesday.
The auditors were responding to a tip that ALE Director John Ledford and Deputy Director for Operations Allen Page were using their state-owned vehicles to commute to their homes near Asheville on the weekends.
State law allows the men to use their official vehicles for commuting but also requires them to live in or near Raleigh since they are based at headquarters. The men share an apartment in Raleigh, according to the audit, so they shouldn’t be using a state-owned car to commute elsewhere.
According to the audit, attempts to speak with ALE officers in Asheville were met with so much resistance that the State Auditor’s Office had to ask the Attorney General’s Office to prepare subpoenas to compel cooperation before ALE officials finally relented and spoke with investigators.
So, all this “politicking” that has targeted Democrat Ledford occurred under a Democratic Governor.
After an audit by a Democratic Auditor. Who asked the Democratic Attorney General to intervene.
Got it. Maybe it’s not everyone else, Mr. Ledford. Maybe it’s you. This is a chance for the folks in Madison County to help repair the image as a hotbed of political machine corruption. But, November 2014 is a long way off.
EXIT QUOTE: Ledford said, “…we are going to put back confidence within the Sheriff’s Office.”
Good luck with that.