Holden critic Huffman unrepentant

The former House aide behind an anonymous smear of former Gov. William Holden still opposes a pardon for the disgraced governor.

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Carlton Huffman
Laura Leslie

During their session at the Old Capitol Tuesday, state lawmakers are expected to vote to pardon disgraced former governor William Holden.

Carlton Huffman hopes they won’t.

Huffman is the former assistant to Representative Jonathan Jordan, R-Ashe. He’s the person who went into the Senate chamber and distributed an unsigned letter denigrating William Holden on the day the Senate was scheduled to debate pardoning the Reconstruction governor. 

Holden, a Republican, was impeached by Democrats in 1870 and removed from office in 1871, the only NC governor to have been subjected to that process. It happened after he called out the militia to respond to violence in Caswell and Alamance Counties.

Some early 20th century academics called Holden "corrupt and arrogant." But more recent scholars say his impeachment was political revenge for his defense of black voters targeted by the Ku Klux Klan.

In an interview today, Huffman said he wasn’t working with or on behalf of anyone when he put the letter on Senate desks. ‘It was me,” he said. “I personally made that decision.”

Huffman said he didn’t know only senators were allowed to put items on other senators’ desks. “I would have gone about it a completely different way if I’d known that was against the rules. I just wanted to get the facts before them.”

But he doesn’t regret passing out the letter.

“The bill was being rushed through,” Huffman said. “I felt that they were doing a disservice to the history of the state.”

As Huffman sees it, the pardon, Senate Joint Resolution 256, glosses over Holden’s controversial acts as governor.

“They’re whitewashing and cherrypicking the facts of history to try to pass a politically correct symbol,” he argued. “Holden was much more complicated than the story the resolution is putting forth. The sponsors are all smart men. They know better.”

Huffman said he plans to stay in the Raleigh area, and will stay involved in conservative politics, too. He hadn’t decided yet whether to attend tomorrow’s session to watch the Senate debate the bill. He hopes it won’t pass.

“Republicans campaigned on ending the culture of corruption in Raleigh,” Huffman said. “Why would they pardon one of the most corrupt governors in North Carolina history?”

“I hope they have the courage to do what is right tomorrow, not what is politically convenient.”

Senate session in the Old Capitol Tuesday is scheduled for 2:00 pm. 



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