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Tillis accuses Democrats of 'meddling' in GOP primary

Posted April 17

This is a still image from "Meddling," an ad by Thom Tillis.

— State House Speaker and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis is striking back at Democrats who are using a 2012 scandal involving two of the lawmaker's legislative staffers against him.

Senate Majority PAC, which is allied with Democrats, says it will spend nearly $1 million to an air ad highlighting the fact that two Tillis staffers lost their jobs in 2012 after it was revealed they had undisclosed romantic relationships with lobbyists. 

Tillis is the front-runner in a field of eight Republican candidates hoping to take on U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, an incumbent Democrat up for re-election this year. He has produced his own ads to answer the Senate Majority PAC claims.

"Seen those ads attacking Thom Tillis? They're false," says a male narrator. "Tillis fired the staffers. Know who is paying for those sleazy ads? It's Harry Reid. Reid's trying to fool Republican voters, meddling in our primary to get a weak opponent for Kay Hagan."

In order to avoid a runoff election, Tillis needs to earn 40 percent of the vote in the first primary. Otherwise, the second-place finisher can ask for a runoff.

At this point, Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary and Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte are the most likely second-place finishers. Brannon has used the same Tillis episode in a fundraising mailer. 

While both Harris and Brannon have campaign commercials on television, neither has been able to match the amount Tillis has spent. Plus, Tillis has benefited from super PAC American Crossroads airing commercials on his behalf.

The Senate Majority PAC ads could pick off enough voters to keep Tillis from reaching the 40 percent threshold. 

Democrats responded to Tillis' ad by calling it misleading. Tillis, they said, didn't fire the staffers in question. 

"The truth is, he admitted those two staffers resigned and even used that point to defend the nearly $20,000 in taxpayer money after they were caught having affairs with lobbyists," said Ben Ray, a spokesman for Forward North Carolina, the Democratic political organization working with the Hagan campaign in North Carolina. 

WRAL News reported at the time that Charles Thomas, Tillis' chief of staff, "had resigned" and that policy adviser Amy Hobbs had been asked to resign. Asked later about severance pay given to the pair, Tillis said, "There was about two weeks' notice you would normally give in a resignation. I told them they would need to sever on the day they provided it." At the time, Tillis said the severance pay was fair. 

Jordan Shaw, a spokesman for the Tillis campaign, stood by the commercial. 

"The action initiated by Speaker Tillis resulted in the termination of their employment," Shaw said.

33 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Apr 25, 11:49 a.m.

    If you commented here, did you read the story?

    This link shows that Tillis’ staffer Charles Thomas resigned, after the newpaper found out he was sleeping with his Home Builder lobbyist. All Tillis did was complain that someone found out about it & told the world http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/story/11031879/

    This link shows *another* Tillis’ staffer Amy Hobbs resigned ALSO for sleeping with a lobbyist: http://www.wral.com/news/state/nccapitol/story/11049924/

    Now, Tillis lies & tells us that he “fired” both people.

    This is HUGE news & deserves to be shouted from the rooftops and certainly placed in political ads to demonstrate what kind of office Tillis runs...one rife with lobbyist relationships and weak accountability.

    Meanwhile, Tillis continues to ignore the conflict-of-interest issue & just complains about everyone making a big deal about all this.

  • cooldela1966 Apr 21, 9:38 a.m.

    Of course the Democrats want to face Brannon so they can link him to those conspiracy theories on his website. If that stuff does not scare you then you need some help.

  • wildpig777 Apr 20, 4:55 a.m.

    tillus does not have the best interests of north Carolina at heart and never has had-- just say NO. he does not merit, deserve, or has earned any position of state office in nc., nor will he get my vote.

  • Honesty first Apr 19, 8:19 a.m.

    And you Pac is attacking Hagan at every turn. Be a big boy and take what you give. Oh and Thom, did you fire your adulterous staffers or did they resign. Also, where did you get your degree, via mail?

  • cooldela1966 Apr 19, 6:57 a.m.

    Obviously the Dr. convicted of fraud and failing to pay his taxes appreciates the fact the fact... View More

    — Posted by rduwxboy

    Don't forget the preacher.

    Kay looks better each day.

  • Taffy Apr 18, 5:24 p.m.

    Old Thom Tillis needs to put on his big boy pants. He accepted resignations & gave big severance packages to buy silence. That's not firing. And what about the the ads attacking Kay Hagen. Whats good for the gander is good for the goose. It's going to be an UGLY election year!

  • pianoguy Apr 18, 2:20 p.m.

    Hey rduwxboy, Dr. Brannon wasn't "convicted" of anything. He lost a lawsuit over a civil dispute with business associates. You can only be "convicted" of a crime, and no crime occurred. It is a minor issue, and Brannon is absolutely correct that Tillis brings tons of baggage to the party. And contrary to the tone of this article, Brannon will NOT be a weak candidate against Kay Hagan. He actually understands how health care works and will eat her lunch on Obamacare.

  • Wake1 Apr 18, 11:55 a.m.

    Too bad ehtics do not play more of a part for those who aspire to or hold political office. Sad, really.

  • ALECarolina Apr 18, 11:49 a.m.

    What is THIS? An episode of "Scooby Doo?

    "Yeah, I know I've represented ALEC, Karl Rove, and the Koch Brothers instead of the citizens of North Carolina while I've been in the NC legislature, but my corporate masters would have bought Kay Hagan's seat for me to do their bidding.....IF IT HADN'T BEEN FOR THOSE MEDDLING DEMOCRATS.

    Funny how these jokers can dish it out, but when they get a dose of their own medicine, it's an "attack" by the "leftist liberal state-owned socialist gun-grabbin' freedom-hatin' progressive media."

    Cry us a handfull, Thom "ALEC Legislator Of The Year" Tillis (R) Florida......you could always find another state to hijack a Senate seat in, it won't matter that much to the corporate "people" who are paying for it.

  • Honesty first Apr 18, 10:47 a.m.

    I also despise Thommy Boy but will not vote for him for any office, even dog catcher. He has not been honest nor served the people he represents. His comments on his education were wanting as well as his "firing" his staff members that committed adultery with lobbyists. He said he fired them and they said they resigned. You don't pay 2 weeks of salary to someone you fired. If he did, it was tax payer money that he then misused.

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