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article imageScandal looms over NC House race as Moffitt battles complaint

By Kelly Fetty     Apr 9, 2014 in Politics
Raleigh - Republican state Representative Tim Moffitt has asked the North Carolina State Board of Elections to dismiss a complaint alleging he attempted to bribe and threaten Democratic rival Brian Turner during a private meeting in a local restaurant in February.
Turner and Moffitt are competing to represent the 116th District in North Carolina's House of Representatives.
The allegations surfaced after Buncombe County Commissioner David King arranged a private meeting between Moffitt and Turner at the Travinia Italian Kitchen and Wine Bar on February 24.
In the complaint, Turner claims Moffitt asked him to withdraw from the race so Moffitt could campaign to become Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives without the distraction of a race in his home district. The complaint alleges Moffitt warned Turner that if he stayed in the race, "independent groups" would destroy his reputation. Turner also claims Moffitt offered him "employment at UNC-TV in exchange for withdrawing from the race."
Turner filed the complaint on March 14.
Moffitt has admitted asking Turner to withdraw from the race, but denied all the other allegations.
Moffitt's Response: "There is no basis to sustain the complaint"
In his response, Moffitt acknowledges that the two men discussed "third party groups" and the location of UNC-TV offices but denies making any threats or bribes.
Moffitt's response includes a transcript of Turner's March 12 interview on the Pete Kaliner radio show and a sworn statement from Buncombe County Commissioner David King, which he claims support his version of the meeting.
On page three of the transcript, Turner states that Moffitt did not openly offer him a job at UNC-TV in exchange for dropping out of the race.
"[Moffitt's] approach was more nuanced than that," Turner said.
King's sworn statement implies Turner spread stories about bribes and threats to help his campaign.
"...I heard rumors that Brian Turner was claiming that Representative Moffitt tried to bribe him with a job and threatened him," says King's statement. "I called Brian Turner on the morning of March 9, 2014, and asked him why he was saying such things, which did not happen. In response, Brian Turner said "It is good for my campaign."
Turner: "Incendiary falsehoods."
After King's statement was made public, Turner released a recording of King's telephone call to the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NC BOE) and the Asheville Citizen-Times.
In the recording, King and Turner discuss the February 24 meeting with Moffitt. King tells Turner that Moffitt did not make any threats.
"I'm used to Tim [Moffitt] talking to me so it didn't set off any bells, necessarily," says King.
King describes Moffitt's speaking style as "very straightforward" and "bam-bam-bam."
King firmly denies that Moffitt offered Turner a job at UNC-TV.
"I can testify to that," he says. "There was no jobs offered or accepted."
During the conversation both men agree that Moffitt asked Turner to withdraw.
"It's very clearly what Tim said," says Turner. "'Withdraw, I want to be Speaker.'"
"Yeah, that was clear," King replies. "No question about that."
Later in the conversation, Turner tells King he has been discussing the meeting with his supporters. King does not accuse him of spreading false information.
In an interview with radio host Jeff Messer on April 3, Turner defended his version of events.
"David effectively contradicts himself with his sworn affidavit and the phone call. And David also contradicts Tim's sworn statement, saying that there's no linkage between him asking me to withdraw and the Speaker bid," he told Messer.
"I guess they just couldn't help themselves and they wanted to ding me politically by including all these sort of incendiary falsehoods inside this statement," he said.
Moffitt declined to be interviewed by Messer.
The NC BOE investigation is ongoing.
More about Representative Tim Moffitt, Brian Turner, Buncombe County Commissioner David King, NC 116th District, Pete Kaliner show
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