NC elections board removes Rowan official over 'intemperate' remarks
Posted October 15, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — The State Board of Elections voted 3-2 Thursday to remove Malcolm "Mac" Butner from the Rowan County Board of Elections, citing his "intemperate remarks" regarding race and sexual orientation as well as indications that he favored particular candidates or political causes.
"These are remarks that I would not tolerate in my home, I won't abide them in my workplace, and I sure as heck am not going to leave a person who says these things on a county board of elections – not on my watch," said Joshua Howard, a Republican and chairman of the State Board of Elections.
Howard voted along with the board's two Democrats to remove Butner. The other two Republicans voted against removal.
The social media posts in question were derogatory toward immigrants and minorities as well as gays and lesbians. Some indicated that he believed the former confederacy was "illegally occupied by force" since 1865.
As an example, one post on Twitter from 2013 addresses Oprah Winfrey's receipt of the Presidential Medal of Freedom by saying, "@Oprah WELL YOU GOT YOUR MOF THANKS TO YOUR BLACK PREZ AND A LOT OF WHITE WOMEN. CAN YOU EVER DO ANYTHING ON YOUR OWN?" In another Facebook post, he questioned why a local chamber of commerce official had not taken her husband's last name.
Butner, a Republican, has been one of three members of the Rowan County Board of Elections since being appointed this summer. He was already a controversial figure in the community following his service on a local housing authority board.
However, members and staff of the state board said it appeared a "clerical error" led to his appointment. In particular, Butner was supposed to be an alternate selection, not one of the two active appointments made this summer.
Butner's mobile phone mailbox was full Thursday morning. A message left at his home was not immediately returned.
State board members said they were frustrated with Butner's lack of cooperation with their proceedings. Officials said they offered to move Thursday's hearing in order to accommodate Butner, who has been ill. They also solicited his input. All board members say they received in return was a three-sentence response.
"Since my appointment to the Rowan County Board of Elections, I have not violated any parameter or law regarding my conduct as a board member of chairman of my board," he wrote. Butner went on to cite foot and heart surgeries as reasons he could not participate in Thursday's hearing.
The two state board members who voted against removing Butner said it appeared he had, in fact, abided by rules governing social media postings since his appointment.
"I was a little bit more unwilling to go back in a person's past to remove them," said James Baker, a former judge and prosecutor.
Nancy Evans, director of the Rowan County Board of Elections, told the board Butner had been "professional" during his service.
That said, Baker said that, if he were deciding whether to initially appoint Butner, he would not have done so.
But Howard and the board's two Democrats said the nature of the posts, plus a few that remained online after his appointment, indicated an ongoing pattern. They were also troubled that Butner had not been more responsive.
"Mac Butner could have picked up the phone and answered questions today," said Joshua Malcolm, a Democratic board member.
Should Butner appeal the board's decision, that case would go to Superior Court.