NC elections board removes Rowan official over 'intemperate' remarks

Posted October 15, 2015

— 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.

The bulk of the material cited during Thursday's hearing was posted before Butner became an elections board member.

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.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • B.c. Jimmy Oct 19, 2015
    user avatar

    R.i.p. free speech

  • Paul Maxwell Oct 17, 2015
    user avatar

    A BOE is no place for bigots, nut jobs, or blatant favoritism. Well done, State Board. (Are you listening, Watauga?)

  • John Jones Oct 16, 2015
    user avatar

    Wow you seriously can't differentiate from wanting more black police officers and blatantly racist statements ?

    My point exactly. Its seems just as racist for citizens to demand LEO's and politicians to be a certain race. Just as several years ago they were complaining there wasn't enough black quarterbacks in the NFL. If the shoe was on the other foot they would see it differently. How about more diversity in the NBA? What about more white people on the board of the NAACP? Why can't we have contestants of various ethnic backgrounds competing in the Miss Black America pageant. People in today's society put way too much emphasis on the color of someones skin and not the content of their character. Do you honestly thinks it's not racist to request elected officials to be a certain race?

  • Real Libertine Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar


  • Dolly Butler Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    Mr. Rowan knew when he accepted the job that he could not endorse any Candidate ...which he did on his Facebook Page.

  • John Snow Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Wow you seriously can't differentiate from wanting more black police officers and blatantly racist statements ?

  • John Jones Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    Whats different from this case and the political and black lives matter groups demanding more black police officers and politicians in Ferguson and Baltimore?

  • Tom Laurence Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    As public officials, one must watch what s/he states while in office. And posting such comments on line - that's not very bright. Government employees and Elected officials must remain neutral and not let personal beliefs interfere with their positions. Good Move by the NC Elections Board.

  • Matt Wood Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    This guy is IN CHARGE OF ELECTIONS! His personal biases have no place in his job serving the public to ensure impartial elections. He knowingly broke the rules, and now he deserves the consequences.

  • Jay Tanenbaum Oct 15, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    We still have free speech but not freedom from consequences.

    Even so, what he said was stupid. By posting the racial garbage he did, it took away any claims of being impartiality that he might have thought he had. People in these positions of power need to learn to just shut up.