Senate GOP: Holden pardon on hold

Looks like former Gov. William Holden, the first and only North Carolina governor to be impeached, will have to wait a bit longer for his pardon.

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Laura Leslie

Looks like former Gov. William Holden, the first and only North Carolina governor to be impeached, will have to wait a bit longer for his pardon.

Holden, a Reconstruction-era Republican was impeached in 1871 for calling out the state militia to quell racial violence incited by the Ku Klux Klan. He was the first U.S. governor to be removed from office.

This year, on the 140th anniversary of his impeachment, Senate Republicans and Democrats seemed to be united behind a resolution that would have pardoned Holden. The measure, sponsored by Wake Republican Neal Hunt, was on Tuesday’s Senate calendar.

Then a funny thing happened that no one has explained yet: An anonymous document was placed on senators’ desks, describing Holden as a “scalawag” who didn’t deserve a pardon.

The measure was pulled off the calendar.


Under Senate rules, only a senator can put items on other members’ desks, and they have to put their name on whatever they distribute. No one came forward to admit having distributed the letter. 

Senate Rules Chairman Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, pledged to check the chamber's security tapes, but later said the camera in the Senate was “on the blink.”

Apodaca said Tuesday the pardon was rescheduled due to “legal concerns.”

Today, though, Hunt said Holden's pardon was pulled because “some members” had heard concerns about it from their constituents.

“Apparently, the wounds were pretty deep,” Hunt said. “There’s still some raw feelings.”

Hunt says most Republicans do support the pardon, as do all the Democrats. He wants the pardon to be heard but thinks it’s unlikely.

Apodaca said the problem with the pardon is that it’s a non-debatable resolution. If it comes back to the floor, he says, it’ll be handled like a regular bill, with a full committee hearing.

“There are so many feelings about this on both sides, I think they should be heard,” Apodaca said. “When we took a hard look at it, a lot of us didn’t know which direction to go. We wanted to be careful.”

Conspiracy theory

Several folks have noted the convenient timing of the camera malfunction, not to mention the fact that there are eight cameras in the Senate, not one. But General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver confirms there’s no video from any of them to determine who left the anonymous anti-Holden document.

Weaver says a system bug put the cameras out of commission. He says a recent software update turned off the motion activation in the Senate cameras and several others throughout the complex. He said they worked till nearly midnight last night to get all the cameras back on line.

“But when we needed them to work, they didn’t.”

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