Tuesday, November 09, 2004

THE RACE FOR N.C. SUPREME COURT (the Bob Orr seat, for which there were eight candidates on the ballot) was won by Paul Newby, the only candidate endorsed by the state Republican Party and heavily promoted as one of their kind. You may recall that Newby's yard signs prominently featured the word "Conservative."

The close identification of Newby with the Republican Party, in what was supposed to be a non-partisan race, brought a complaint to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which in turn opened an investigation into whether Newby might be violating the Hatch Act.

Time out: The Hatch Act covers federal employees. Paul Newby is a federal employee, specifically a federal prosecutor in Raleigh. The Hatch Act forbids a federal employee from running in a partisan election, though non-partisan contests are okay. The question behind the Special Counsel's investigation was whether Newby was violating the Hatch Act by being endorsed heavily by the state's Republican Party and then campaigning on that endorsement.

Rachel Lea Hunter, fellow Republican candidate in the same race against Newby and a loose cannon if there ever was one, publicized the fact that Newby was under investigation. And now she's kicking up more fuss because Newby refuses to reveal what has happened with the federal investigation of his activities. Newby said, "I'm just not going to comment. I don't see that there's a reason to."


"If you can break the Hatch Act and reap the rewards, what a worthless law that is!" said Christina Jeffrey, a visiting professor of political science and public administration at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, S.C. She is a friend of Hunter's who once ran a Georgia organization called Operation Integrity, which investigated public officials. "If we were serious," Jeffrey said, "the punishment would be loss of the ill-gotten gains -- to wit, the job one obtained by cheating." (Raleigh N&O coverage this morning here.)

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