By Jesse Wood
Stella Anderson will replace fellow Democrat Kathleen Campbell on the three-member Watauga County Board of Elections, according to a list of appointments on the State Board of Elections website.
Anderson has served on the board in the past and will be joining Republicans Luke Eggers and Bill Aceto, who are serving consecutive terms on the board and were re-appointed in late June.
On Wednesday, the State Board of Elections voted 3-1 to appoint Anderson to serve as the Democrat representative on the local board. Anderson was the only Democrat nominated by the N.C. Democratic Party.
Republican Josh Howard, chair of the State Board of Elections, sided with Democrats Josh Malcolm and Maja Kricker to appoint Anderson. With Republican Paul Foley abstaining (because of questionable correspondence in 2013 with Watauga County Attorney Four Eggers, who is Luke Egger’s brother, in an attempt to eliminate an early voting site on the ASU campus), Republican Rhonda Amoroso was the lone dissenter.
Anderson is also one of several plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the State Board of Elections in 2013 regarding attempts to eliminate the early voting site at ASU. The Dems claimed that eliminating an early voting site at ASU was unconstitutional and that it discriminated against younger voters.
The plaintiffs, all local Democrats, scored a major victory – after the local board voted to eliminate ASU’s early voting site and the state board upheld that decision – when a judge in Wake County Superior Court ordered the state board to approve a early voting plan in Watauga County that includes a one-stop site on the campus of ASU for 2014.
This ruling happened days before early voting was to begin, but this lawsuit. The lawsuit is currently in the N.C. Court of Appeals. According to the Winston-Salem Journal, three of the five state board members “expressed concerns” on Wednesday about appointing Anderson to the local board while she is currently involved in a lawsuit against the state.
Howard, chair of the state board, mentioned the lawsuit at the meeting on Wednesday.
“It is certainly unusual to appoint someone to a county board who is suing the state board, but it shouldn’t preclude someone who is competent to serve,” Howard said, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
Foley Resigns from State Board of Elections
After the meeting, Gov. Pat McCrory called for Foley to resign from the State Board of Elections and Foley did just that on Wednesday night.
This came a week after The Associated Press published an investigative piece about Foley, who didn’t recuse himself from the N.C. Board of Elections investigation into Chase E. Burns, an Oklahoma Internet sweepstakes magnate, even though Foley’s law firm received $1.3 million in legal service payments from Burns’ company.
Foley finally stepped aside after N.C. Elections Director Kim Strach learned of the relationship with Foley and Burns. But Foley continued to press the state elections board and staff for updates on the investigation, according to an Oct. 10 memo from Strach to Howard, the chair of the state board.
At one meeting last fall, Foley was reminded that he recused himself and that it would be improper of the board to allow Foley to stay abreast of the ongoing investigation.
“Mr. Foley was not satisfied with my answer,” Strach’s memo read. “I was alarmed by Mr. Foley’s behavior today, and I have again cautioned staff not to address any questions from Mr. Foley regarding this ongoing investigation.”
In speaking with the Associated Press last week, Foley denied wrongdoing and declined to say whether or not he share information regarding the investigation with his law partners or anyone else outside of the State Board of Elections.
“’I don’t think it would be really appropriate for me to say anything,’ said Foley. When pressed about his knowledge of Burns payments to his firm, Foley hung up,” the AP reported.
Foley & the ASU Early Voting Site
After new members of the Watauga County Board of Elections (Eggers, Aceto and Campbell) were sworn in during the summer of 2013, County Attorney Four Eggers was corresponding with Foley about the potential elimination of ASU’s early voting site, according to emails obtained by The Associated Press.
Foley was asked, for one example, if he expected the State Board of Elections to approve the elimination of an early voting site on ASU, which was the only early voting site in the county to vote Democrat in the 2008 and 2012 presidential races and the 2012 governor’s race.
“Eggers said he wanted Foley to vet the plan because “it would be embarrassing” if state elections officials overturned it. In an August 8, 2013 email, Foley responded that “unless something is out of whack with reality, then I don’t think it is likely for the State Board to have any issues with it,’” the AP reported.
“Foley spoke in favor of the plan before the state board and did not mention his involvement. The board voted 4-1 in favor of upholding it.”