by Jordan Green

Items from across the Triad and beyond

State Dems fire back against

Winston-Salem consultant NC Democratic Party Chairman Randy Voller has publicly responded to a critical video produced by Democratic consultant Frank Eaton by denouncing his statements as “scurrilous” and “defamatory,” while accusing his critics of undermining “our efforts to unify and energize the party and create a stable environment to win in 2014.”

The statement came by way of a May 31 press release from Michael Carmichael, one of two consultants hired by the party after a proposal from Eaton’s Bully Documentary firm and an outfit called Pivotal Campaign Services were passed over. Eaton is based in Winston-Salem and is the former president of the Forsyth County Young Democrats.

A video produced by Eaton entitled “For the Good of the Party” urges that “major irregularities inside the NCDP demand an investigation into hiring, firing and finances.” Posted to the internet on May 16, the video went viral and attracted attention from the Associated Press, the BlueNC blog and the Chatham Journal, the newspaper that serves Voller’s hometown of Pittsboro.

“Chairman Voller’s stacking of the state executive council served the purpose, intentional or not, of derailing an investigation into his actions up to and following the firing of the director and the naming of himself as executive director of the Democratic Party. I’ve seen documents that indicate major irregularities in the handling of credit cards. There have been major violations in the firing and demotion of personnel, bullying and interrogation of staff.”

Tammy Brunner, an interim executive director, was fired shortly after Voller’s election as chairman. Since Eaton’s video was posted, the party hired Robert Dempsey as executive director.

Through David H. Harris Jr., a lawyer in Durham, Voller issued a letter demanding that Eaton retract his statements and apologize. Eaton referred questions for this story to his lawyer, Kerry Sutton, who also practices in Durham. Sutton could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The retraction demand letter states in response to Eaton’s statement about “major irregularities in the handling of credit cards” that Voller “personally paid all expenses from his personal funds.”

The exchange refers to a trip earlier this year by Voller to Las Vegas.

The press release last week by Carmichael elaborated: “The video falsely indicated that Voller expensed a Las Vegas trip to the party. However, this was an annual trip that centered around friendship and basketball. The only twist was Voller added a fundraising component, and all expenses were paid for out of Voller’s own pocket.”

The Associated Press reported last month that Voller made $3,327 in charges to Southwest Airlines and the Wynn Las Vegas Hotel on an American Express Business Gold Card issued to himself and the NC Democratic Party. Voller told the Associated Press that he reimbursed the party for the funds.

The press release issued by Carmichael also defends the financial practices of the party under Voller’s leadership.

“Chairman Voller tightened budgetary procedures and brought to completion the audits for 2010 and 2011 that guarantee party spending remains within budget,” Carmichael wrote. “In addition on April 28 th , Voller and State Director Casey Mann presented the most comprehensive and transparent financial picture that the state executive council had received in years and they have proposed a full forensic audit for FY 2012.”