Local News

Political Punches Fly In Cary Mayoral Race

Posted October 26, 2003

— Public scandal or publicity stunt? That was the question in Cary Saturday night, when questions popped up less than two weeks before Election Day.

At issue is an e-mail that asks for anonymous donations to the Ernie McAlister campaign. That is a fundraising violation.

McAlister said it was an honest mistake made by someone outside of his campaign. His opponent, Julie Robison, has asked the Wake County Board of Elections to investigate.

The e-mail has started political punches flying. In one corner, Robison. In the other, McAlister. Both want to win the mayor's seat in the runoff election.

On Friday, Robison sent a letter to the Wake County Board of Elections, asking that they investigate the McAlister campaign -- specifically, the e-mail that asks for anonymous donations, violating North Carolina Law.

Robison said the e-mail's author works for McAlister's campaign.

"It begs the question: Is this indicative of a pattern of campaign contribution solicitation on a broader basis?" Robison said, asking a rhetorical question. "I have no idea."

McAlister said the e-mail was written by a supporter who did not know it was illegal. He said his campaign workers know the rules and that he is glad this was brought to his attention.

He also claimed this is a smear attempt by Robison.

"If you're concerned about the process, and you file a complaint, that's one thing," McAlister said. "If you file a press release in conjunction with the complaint, I think that belies what your true intent is."

Robison said she felt obligated to report it when McAlister still had not done anything to rectify the situation days after the e-mail was sent.

"It disturbs me that six days go by, after being copied on an e-mail, without some kind of correction on a matter of such gravity," Robison said.

McAlister countered that, even if the e-mail was sent to him, he did not read it.

"I was not aware of this until it was brought to my attention (Friday), and we immediately called the Board of Elections and said we want to take care of it. You can not read all the correspondence while you are a candidate."

McAlister said he will meet with the Board of Elections on Monday. He said his campaign is clean and is not affected by Robison's accusations.

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