The column below originally appeared in the Sept. 8, 2016 edition of the Herald Weekly. Mr. Jeter has been back in the news recently when it was reported in the Charlotte Observer CMS hired him as a lobbyist at an annual taxpayer funded salary of $91,000. How exactly a lobbyist produces $91,000 worth of value to the taxpayers isn’t explained in the Observer article. The Daily Haymaker has questioned this use of taxpayer funds since Mr. Jeter isn’t yet a registered lobbyist and is actually prohibited from even registering as a lobbyist until the “later of the close of session as set forth in G.S. 120C-100(a)(4)b.1 in which the legislator served or six months after leaving office” per NCGS 120C-304(a)(2).
Despite being in extra innings at the moment, the current session in which Mr. Jeter served before resigning is likely to end before the six month mark after he left office – which, if you calculate it based on when he formally resigned with the Board of Elections, August 9, and not when he informally notified party leadership of his intention to resign on July 25, would mean Mr. Jeter isn’t even able to register as a lobbyist until on or about February 9, 2017. Were there no other qualified candidates considered by CMS who could start work immediately? I have sent a records request to CMS in an attempt to find this out and will report back when/if I receive a response.
Funny how neither one of our local weekly papers was able to find space to cover this issue this week – but what do I know, I’m just another one of those outlets for fake news online pandering to the un-informed masses.
And my offer to provide a records request template to anyone interested in submitting their own records request still stands. Just send me an email.
How did we ever find outlets for our self-righteousness before social media?
My current social media platform of choice is Twitter, which at least keeps self-righteousness and virtue signaling limited to 140 characters (although Twitter’s increasing culture of censorship has me looking for an alternative platform).
The latest non-toll related online social media outrage du jour took place last month after the vote to replace former state house representative Charles Jeter.
Mr. Jeter notified Republican party leadership of his sudden intention to resign on the morning of July 25, citing personal reasons. He did not provide formal notice of his resignation to the state board of elections until the afternoon of Aug. 9 – 15 days later. There has still not been any explanation provided by Mr. Jeter for the 15-day delay in providing formal notice of his resignation to the appropriate officials at the board of elections. He has declined requests for comments via Twitter.
Why is this 15-day delay important? Because rules allow the Mecklenburg County Republican Party to nominate and vote on a replacement candidate in the event of a resignation, but only after notice has been given to the appropriate officials. The vote to replace Mr. Jeter did not occur until Aug. 17 – the same night, coincidentally, a vote took place to nominate a replacement for former Rep. Mike Hager of Rutherford County. Mr. Hager, by comparison, gave appropriate notice of his resignation on or about Aug. 12, and the replacement vote promptly took place a week later.
The candidate nominated to replace Mr. Jeter on the November ballot, Danae Caulfield, has a severely limited number of days to campaign before the election putting her at a distinct disadvantage compared with her Democrat opponent, who has reported raising over $100,000 this election cycle. The 15 days Mr. Jeter delayed in formally resigning did nothing to increase her electoral odds. [UPDATE – Caulfield did end up losing the election by approx. 3,676 votes. Could this margin have been overcome with more time to fundraise and campaign?]
You would have assumed wrong if you assumed the social media outrage referred to at the outset was directed at Mr. Jeter for his delay in formally resigning. Instead, Facebookers took to their keyboards to furiously vent about the Mecklenburg GOP executive board and Justin Moore, the nominee voted to replace Mr. Jeter for the remainder of the current term.
You see, this was just another example of the GOP elites conspiring to trample anti-toll conservatives by not voting for Mr. Jeter’s primary opponent from earlier this year, Tom Davis, even though Mr. Moore has also always opposed the I-77 toll plan.
Mr. Davis was apparently entitled to the replacement vote, according to some posts, because he nearly defeated Mr. Jeter in the primary. According to this logic, these same individuals would be expected to support Sarah McAulay and Jill Swain to be nominated for town board or mayor in the event of an absence since both were runners-up in the last election – an unlikely scenario.
Many were upset with Mr. Moore for not running for both slots, to finish the term and get on this fall’s ballot, since an incumbent running in November would have been more likely to prevail. But Mr. Davis made clear prior to the Mecklenburg GOP meeting on Aug. 17 he did not intend to run for the ballot slot (and, in fact, did not run for the ballot slot), and I have yet to hear the same criticism leveled against him.
If you really want to effect change locally, you have to show up to your party’s annual precinct meeting at a minimum. It will be interesting to see how many of those expressing their outrage online actually show up to be counted at next year’s precinct meeting.
An addendum: I received a few emails asking for records requests templates after my most recent column on public records. This led me to think there are likely other members of the public who want more information from their local government on various public policy issues or elected officials. So, if you’re interested in obtaining information related to a specific public policy or elected official, send me an email with details and I’ll consider whether to follow up with my own records request.