GOP's Woodhouse deposed, releases opposition research wish list

Dallas Woodhouse answered some questions declined to answer others and seized an opportunity to hand rumors to reporters.

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Dallas Woodhouse
Travis Fain
, WRAL statehouse reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — A legal team for the state Democratic Party deposed the North Carolina Republican Party's executive director for at least 90 minutes Monday morning.

Dallas Woodhouse said he answered some questions "out of respect to the courts," declined to answer others and didn't think anything he had to say was particularly helpful to the federal lawsuit the Democratic Party filed against Republican legislators over the cancellation of this year's judicial primaries.

"We anticipated a fishing expedition, and as far as I'm concerned, that's what we saw," Woodhouse said after appearing under oath before attorneys at the downtown offices of Poyner Spruill.

Woodhouse provided members of the media with a packet of documents that he said he also turned over to Democrats in answer to their subpoena. It was made up largely of talking points against Anita Earls, a Democrat running for the state Supreme Court.

There was also a two-page opposition research to-do list containing Democratic General Assembly candidates and unverified claims against them.

"Is he passing the plate around his church for campaign contributions?" one entry asks. "Is he having an extramarital affair?"

Another entry reads in part: "Waiting on mole to produce evidence of illegal coordination."

The document starts by speculating what role Gov. Roy Cooper and other party leaders had in a story detailing sexual harassment allegations against state Rep. Duane Hall, D-Wake, whom party leadership has since called on to resign.

The subpoena, which Woodhouse provided to the media Thursday, asked only for documents related to the elimination of judicial primaries.

"You can read these things broad, or you can read them narrow," Woodhouse said Monday afternoon.

Woodhouse said he tried to have the subpoena quashed, allowing him not to appear Monday. But that motion wasn't filed until Friday, and Woodhouse said the judge had not ruled on the issue by the time his 10 a.m. deposition rolled around Monday.

The subpoena was served by U.S. mail and email April 9, according to the certificate of service Woodhouse provided. He said his attorneys waited until Friday to file a motion to quash because they initially tried to negotiate with Democrats, in part by telling them, "we didn't have a lot to give them."

Woodhouse is not named in this suit, which was filed against House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. Republican lawmakers surprised judges across the state in October by canceling the 2018 judicial primaries as part of a continuing effort to redraw judicial election districts or potentially move to an appointments system for judges.

The Democratic Party sued to reinstate those primaries, but the case isn't slated to come to trial until June 7 – a month after the May 8 primary. A 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel decided against holding up the election process until the matter is decided.

A spokesman for the Democratic Party said last week that the subpoena was narrowly tailored to get at Woodhouse's role in the decision to cancel primaries. Woodhouse accused Democrats of trying to steal party secrets heading into a campaign season with all 170 legislative seats up for election.

"It's equivalent to somebody subpoenaing the 11 herbs and secret spices from you," he said. "Once they have them, there's no putting the genie back in the bottle."


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