ASHEVILLE, N.C. (AP) — A North Carolina House candidate filed a formal complaint Friday alleging the Republican incumbent he's challenging offered him a state job in exchange for pulling out of the race.
Democrat Brian Turner gave the complaint Friday to the State Board of Elections, which will look into the matter involving Rep. Tim Moffitt, R-Buncombe. Moffitt strongly denies such an offer occurred.
Turner, a former UNC-Asheville administrator with television production experience, accuses Moffitt of telling him last month during a restaurant meeting that he'd help Turner get a job leading the UNC television network if he would withdraw before the filing deadline.
"He said that it was not my turn yet and that he would be done with his work in another four years or so and then I could have the seat," Turner said in an interview earlier this week. "And then, he goes, in the interim you could do something else constructive, like run UNC-TV." Turner said he declined to leave the race. The two are the only candidates in the race in the 116th House District.
Moffitt, a second-term House member, didn't immediately return a cellphone call seeking Friday but on Thursday said any idea he offered any such agreement was "categorically false." Moffitt added that he has no role in the UNC-TV post: "It would be easier for me to help him become the queen of Spain, versus getting that job."
Tom Howe, UNC-TV's director and general manager for more than 20 years, retired last month.
"I was flattering (Turner) by saying with that great background, you ought to see if you could become the president of UNC-TV," Moffitt said. "I wasn't offering him a job."
Turner's elections complaint cited laws in part making it unlawful for any person to give or promise a political appointment in return for "political support or influence."
State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach said by email that as with any similar complaint, "we will investigate the allegations and if we find evidence that in fact criminal violations have occurred, we will refer those matters to the appropriate district attorney."
Both Moffitt and Turner said they met at an Asheville restaurant a few days before the filing deadline, along with a Republican Buncombe County commissioner. David King, the county commissioner who attended and brokered the meeting, said there was "there was no job offer, there was no bribe."
As for the speaker's job, Moffitt, in his second House term, said he told Turner having a November opponent could hurt his chances for the post because it would hinder his ability to travel to support other GOP candidates. House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, is running for the U.S. Senate and isn't seeking re-election to the legislature
Turner also said he took as threatening Moffitt's comments that outside political campaigns Moffitt has no control over could run ads that destroy him and his family's reputation. Moffitt said he was only educating a political newcomer about what he could expect in a coming campaign, citing his own negative experiences in his campaigns. Both men are fathers.
King described the meeting as "a very human story about two dads sitting in a room."