'Drunk Town' ads evolve into Board of Elections complaint
Posted October 3, 2015
Updated October 4, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — 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."