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'Drunk Town' ads evolve into Board of Elections complaint

Posted October 3, 2015
Updated October 4, 2015

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— Official corruption allegations will be filed Monday from a group shaking up the Raleigh City Council race.

Dean Debnam and his political action committee, Wake Citizens for Good Government, the group behind the "Drunk Town" ads, said they will file an official complaint with the Wake County Board of Elections.

In a full-page advertisement published in the News and Observer, Debnam's group alleges that City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin is trying to reshape Raleigh liquor laws.

The group claims that some council members are illegally coordinating, taking illegal money and not disclosing their expenditures.

Five council members are named in the complaint. It also names the group Keep Raleigh Vibrant and local Raleigh business owners.

Jeff Tippet, owner of Targeted Persuasion, a company named in the complaint, said Debnam's accusations are false.

"This is a disappointing end to a hard-fought but otherwise clean campaign. It’s a shame that Mr. Debnam feels the need to interject himself into Raleigh politics with negative ads and false accusations," Tippet said. "Not only are his accusations against me and my colleagues at Targeted Persuasion untrue, they are easily dismissed.

"Targeted Persuasion has never been retained by either Zack Medford or Keep Raleigh Vibrant. The accusation is just false. I’m sorry that the people of Raleigh are subjected to Mr. Debnam's campaign based on misleading and false information. No wonder people are fed up with politics."

Medford, a downtown bar owner and organizer of Keep Raleigh Vibrant, called the allegations a publicity stunt by Debnam to buy an election for his friends.

"Unfortunately for him [Debnam], the politics of fear and intimidation have no place in our city council election," Medford said. "Mr. Debnam is under the mistaken impression that Keep Raleigh Vibrant is somehow merely an extension of the candidates' campaigns. Keep Raleigh Vibrant has operated completely independent of any candidate or candidates. I built our web site, formulated our messaging and designed our graphics myself."

Medford said Keep Raleigh Vibrant has spent $210.16 on Facebook ads and $284.79 on printed flyers.

"I think everyone recognizes a bully when they see one," Medford said, comparing Debnam to Donald Trump.

"While Wake Citizens for Good Government has been running anonymous attack ads, Keep Raleigh Vibrant has been focused on getting thousands young people registered to vote and helping them engage in this year's municipal election."


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  • Dirk Snedly Oct 5, 2015
    user avatar

    "...never seen anything remotely approchi..." (sic)

    Seriously? You've never noticed the suspiciously high numbers of DWI, Simple Affray, Assault, Public Intoxication and similar alcohol fueled arrests in downtown Raleigh?

    Wow. Are you blind or connected to a downtown bar? WakeMugShots dot com shows the evidence of a lot of alcohol related arrests in downtown Raleigh on a constant, ongoing basis. It's no mystery.

    The only real question is, is it sufficient to drive votes in an election. Frankly, I don't care as I don't live in Raleigh, but reality is what it is, denying it is dishonest and not helpful.

  • John Murphy Oct 5, 2015
    user avatar

    Wow...who are these nimrods?

  • Lynn Brearley Oct 5, 2015
    user avatar

    I think it's an actor and l have never seen anything remotely approchi this fiasco/ scenario when downtown. What is the point in this senseless ad?

  • George Herbert Oct 5, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    The city can't change state laws regarding alcohol. And the state is unlikely to change the law to allow those under 21 to drink because of the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which threatened loss of federal highway funds to states that allowed those under 21 to purchase or publicly possess alcohol.

  • Sherrill Craig Oct 4, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Pretty sure it's a model...Do you see a pile of sick near him??

  • Jim Hugs Oct 4, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    This is what's wrong with America. This guy has got his panties all in a twist because someone caught him drunk in public.

  • Ronnie Reams Oct 4, 2015
    user avatar

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    Most likely an actor.

  • Fenway O'Donnell Oct 4, 2015
    user avatar

    Did the fellow in the photograph give his permission to be used in these ads? If not, I suspect this issue may be over very quickly if he simply objects.

  • mykesmovies Oct 4, 2015

    I hope they do reshape the liquor laws. If you can pick up a gun and go fight for your country like a man, you should be able to drink like a man. I wonder if Mr. Debnam served his country?