Local Politics

GOP Wake commissioners spurn League of Women Voters

Posted August 28, 2014 5:14 p.m. EDT

— The four Republican members of the Wake County Board of Commissioners have jointly decided to skip all voter forums this fall sponsored by the League of Women Voters.

Commissioners Joe Bryan, Paul Coble, Rich Gianni and Phil Matthews recently sent a letter to LWV officials, saying they were already participating in several forums across Wake County before the Nov. 4 election that are "both broad in scope and bipartisan" and have no intention of adding LWV events on Sept. 17, Oct. 2 and Oct. 9 to their schedules.

"While we appreciate your offer, we believe your group has a scope that is too narrow to adequately preserve the impartiality of the setting needed for a full and fair discussion of local issues," the commissioners said in the letter.

Meanwhile, the four commissioners, who are all up for re-election, were expected to participate in a Thursday night forum sponsored by the conservative Wake County Taxpayers Association.

LWV officials expressed dismay at the move, noting that the organization has sponsored candidate forums annually for at least 15 years.

Marian Lewin, chairwoman of the Wake County chapter of LWV, said the group has been nonpartisan since its founding in 1920. She also took exception to the commissioners' assertion that the group was involved in lawsuits against the county.

"The League of Women Voters is both appalled and discouraged that these four incumbent county commissioners have resorted to inaccurate accusations and are unwilling to jointly meet with voters in Wake County," Lewin said in a statement.

The conservative Civitas Institute also has urged Republican U.S. Senate candidate Thom Tillis to drop out of a LWV-sponsored debate with Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan.

“Speaker Tillis should not be lending his stature to the League of Women Voters while they are working with left-wing groups standing in the way of beneficial legislation," Civitas President Francis DeLuca said in a statement, noting that LWV is part of lawsuits challenging redrawn legislative and congressional voting maps and a sweeping elections law that, among other provisions, would require voters to present photo identification at the polls.