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Governor's Office acknowledges being warned of abuse allegations against elections board nominee

Posted October 7, 2020 10:46 p.m. EDT
Updated October 8, 2020 7:12 p.m. EDT

— A spokesman for Gov. Roy Cooper said Thursday that a nominee to the State Board of Elections should not have been appointed after his former girlfriend contacted the Governor’s Office with allegations of longstanding physical and emotional abuse.

Both the woman, whom WRAL News agreed not to identify, and nominee James Carlton "Carr" McLamb Jr. are well-known in state political circles. The woman contacted Cooper’s office with her story last Friday after learning McLamb was nominated by the North Carolina Republican Party to fill one of two vacant seats on the state elections board.

Despite that, McLamb was appointed to the board on Tuesday.

The woman then posted her story anonymously on social media, accusing McLamb of physical and emotional abuse and sexual coercion during their two-year relationship. She said he even recorded sexual encounters without her knowledge and threatened to "end her" and ruin her career.

"He works very hard to make sure everyone thinks he is a pillar of society,” she wrote. “A sociopath with narcissistic personality disorder is the last thing this state needs in a position of such power.”

After reporters started asking questions about the post, Cooper rescinded McLamb’s nomination late Wednesday.

"The State Board of Elections has critical work to do to ensure a fair, safe, secure election. The work of the board does not need any more distractions," Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said in an email announcing McLamb wouldn't serve on the elections board.

At the time, Porter put the onus on the GOP to vet its nominees. He backed off that on Thursday.

"While it is a requirement to select nominees put forward by the Republican Party, our office should have done a better job understanding and communicating the severity of these allegations, and this appointment should not have moved forward," Porter said in a second email.

Tim Wigginton, a spokesman for the state Republican Party, said Thursday that no party officials had been contacted about the allegations against McLamb.

"This is undoubtedly a troubling situation that we take very seriously; however, as far as we can tell, there is no public record like a police report or restraining order that would come up in a vetting process," Wigginton said in an email. "Unlike the Governor's Office, we do not have access to privileged information and rely on public records."

McLamb issued a statement Wednesday night implying the allegations were politically motivated.

"These anonymous allegations were launched against my character just hours after I was appointed to a partisan role that could have national implications," he said. "As a general rule, I do not respond to anonymous attacks, but let me be very clear, I never assaulted anyone or forced anyone into unwanted actions. I’m fortunate to have dated smart, successful women, and all of my relationships have helped to make me a better person."

McLamb has been an attorney in North Carolina since 2007 and now works for a utility management company called Envirolink, according to the Governor's Office. He was previously an assistant general counsel at what is now the Department of Environmental Quality and a deputy secretary at the Department of Transportation.

"I value public service," he said in his statement, "but I agree with Governor Cooper’s spokesperson that the State Board of Elections does not need additional distractions at this critical time."

Cooper on Thursday named Stacy Clyde "Four" Eggers IV, a lawyer in Boone who served on the state elections board in 2018, to replace McLamb on the board.

The two Republican members on the five-person State Board of Elections, David Black and Ken Raymond, resigned two weeks ago after Republican leaders in the state expressed outrage over a proposed lawsuit settlement both men had voted for.

That settlement would have changed the state's absentee ballot rules, allowing people in some cases to vote by mail without getting the witness signature required by law. The proposed changes have been put on hold while a number of court cases are resolved at both the state and federal levels.

Former state Sen. Tommy Tucker, who retired from the General Assembly last year, has been named to fill the other GOP seat on the board.

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