RALEIGH, N.C. — You would not expect the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, to play a big role in North Carolina's race for governor, but a Republican candidate is running a political ad accusing Gov. Mike Easley's policies of helping terrorists.
State Sen. Fern Shubert's ad refers to a bill the Senate passed 10 days after 9/11 that she says makes it easier for illegal immigrants to obtain driver's license, therefore helping terrorists.
The campaign ad states, "Within days after 9/11, Mike Easley signed a law that made it easier for terrorists, illegal aliens, drunk drivers and everyone except law-abiding citizens to get driver's licenses."
The accusations in the ad have ignited a controversy and prompted a response from Easley's office.
"It's something that I think is, quite frankly, is shameful," said Jeff Reiff, Easley's campaign manager.
Reiff says the ad is false, and that since 9/11 it has become tougher to get licensed in North Carolina. He also points out most of the 9/11 hijackers were in the United States legally with student visas.
"It has nothing to do with the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles or how we issue driver's licenses. It's just a false connection," Reiff said.
"He needs to quit helping terrorists," Shubert said.
Shubert stands by the ad, saying the proof of her charges is in the letter of the law.
"If someone comes to North Carolina to get a driver's license and they have absolutely no proof of North Carolina residence because they are not a North Carolina resident, all they have to do is sign an affidavit and the Division of Motor Vehicles is told -- by law -- that they must accept that as proof of North Carolina residence," Shubert said.
Aside from the debate over the law, the governor's office also objects to the use of 9/11 footage.
Peter Godiel heads of 9/11 Families for a Secure America. His son died in the attacks, and Godiel voices the ad.
"For him to say that we can't talk about what happened to our loved ones is just absurd. He is just a politician who does not want his record to catch up with him," he said.
Godiel says his group sought out Shubert for the ad.