GOP featured McCollum in a 2010 attack ad

Posted September 4, 2014

This is one side of a 2010 campaign flier put out by the N.C. Republican Party that was used to attack then-House Majority Leader Hugh Holliman.

— Henry McCollum, the death row inmate who walked free this week after being exonerated, played a part in a 2010 state House campaign. 

McCollum's mug shot and a statement that he "raped and murdered an 11-year-old child" were featured on a flier by the North Carolina Republican Party that attacked former Rep. Hugh Holliman, D-Davidson, who was the House majority leader at the time. Holliman lost his seat in the 2010 election that put Republicans in control of both the House and the Senate for the first time in more than a century.

The ad played on Holliman's vote in favor of the Racial Justice Act, a law that was designed to allowed death row inmates to challenge their sentences based on statistical and other evidence of racial bias.

Although the law allowed judges only to change sentences of death row inmates to life in prison, the flier said, "thanks to ultra-liberal Hugh Holliman, they might be moving out of jail and into Your neighborhood sometime soon." 

That claim was particularly jarring because Holliman's 16-year-old daughter was murdered in 1985, and he remained a staunch death penalty supporter after witnessing her killer's execution. That ad was considered so over the line, it prompted an apology from the Republican Party. 

"I called and told Mr. Holliman that I wanted to apologize if the mailer caused him any personal anguish or discomfort," Tom Fetzer, who was then the chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party, told the Winston-Salem Journal at the time. "We did not know about the tragic death of his daughter. If we had known, we would not have sent that mailer out in his district."

After Republicans won control of the General Assembly, GOP majorities voted in large part to repeal the Racial Justice Act.


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  • Come On_Seriously Sep 8, 2014

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    Because people -particularly conservatives- tend to be more spiteful than pragmatic.

  • Stilllearnin Sep 5, 2014

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    I guess being a Monday morning quarterback is your thing! When the ad came out where you shouting "This is untrue and false!" I say the odds are that you didn't.

  • Tim Blanchard Sep 5, 2014
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    This was real bad on the R's part. The worst part is that the fella was innocent the whole and railroaded by the cops and 'justice' system. If R's want to be outraged, they should do something about that.

  • WBF Sep 5, 2014

    Question: If executions cost the taxpayers of NC more than life sentences AND the death penalty is not an effective deterrent AND innocent people are sentenced to death, then WHY does this law persist?

  • archmaker Sep 5, 2014

    look at the picture. the ad says "death row inmates could leave prison early and move next door."
    the law said a death sentence could be changed to life without parole.
    unless you live in Cellblock "C" the ad DID contain knowingly false information to mislead the low-info voter.

  • 68_dodge_polara Sep 5, 2014

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    Unknowing wrong ok, but at least they weren't willfully lying as out President constantly does which there is obviously a hugh difference.

  • Atheistinafoxhole Sep 4, 2014

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    "believed to be true at the time"

    This not the same as TRUE. So, yes, the ad DID contain false information - even if it was "believed to be true". This just means that those who believed it to be true were wrong.

  • shallottemustang Sep 4, 2014

    Really, this is is news?

  • Sep 4, 2014

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    Except the WHOLE POINT was a right winger wanting to DO AWAY WITH the RACIAL JUSTICE act.

  • 68_dodge_polara Sep 4, 2014

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    Filthy, absolutely pour filth... There was now way for the creators of that add could have known at that time he would later be cleared of murder. No way...