Buncombe County’s political parties continued to butt heads last week in the run-up to the Nov. 2 election.
In a series of online posts, Xpress reported on several developments in the ongoing debacle over the local GOP’s 9/11 fundraiser at the Swannanoa Fire Department.
In “Fire Dept: We Were Unaware of GOP 9/11 Fundraiser’s Political Nature,” Deputy Chief Larry Pierson of the Swannanoa Fire Department said the party had proposed the event as “a ‘rappelling-a-thon’ to help cure cancer. … There was never any mention of any political objective, political fundraising, or any other political intent.”
In a video promoting the event, however, local Republican Party Chair Chad Nesbitt said they were holding the fundraiser “in order to defend ourselves from socialistic terrorism” and that the money raised would go toward “advertising in the media and our guerilla-marketing campaign to get the voters energized to vote” as well as to Hunt the Cure, a local cancer charity.
But Pierson said he wasn’t aware of the promotional video. “We would hope that anyone intending to use our facility would provide us with their clear intent,” he said, adding that from this point forward, he plans to require all groups wanting to use the facility to state their purpose in writing, “so there’s no confusion.”
Later in the week, Xpress also broke the story that “Local Cancer Charity Declines Money From GOP Fundraiser.” According to the post by Michael Muller, Hunt the Cure founder John Boggs asked that any moneys raised by the GOP on the charity’s behalf now be given to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital instead. “We’ve been getting a lot of negative publicity from this,” noted Boggs, adding, “We’re not political; we remain neutral.”
According to Dorothea Alderfer, the local party’s treasurer, the 9/11 fundraising event raised a total of $310. “From a fundraising standpoint, it was a big disappointment,” she told Xpress. “It was not a success for any of us.”
Alderfer went on to say that she hadn’t written any check to St. Jude’s and had never heard of Boggs. “Nobody’s asked me to write a check,” she said. “This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
WLOS-TV also picked up the story, interviewing Buncombe County Democratic Party Chair Charles Carter, who said the event “looks illegal. And we certainly wouldn’t do it.”
In response, Nesbitt said the party would “never intentionally do anything to break the rules” and claimed that “the Democrat Party has always had their fundraisers at high schools and other places that receive tax dollars, so this is the first we’ve ever heard anything in regards to not being able to have a fundraiser at a federal or state location.”
In a follow-up story the next day, the television station reported that Nesbitt had filed a letter of complaint with the State Board of Elections that “claims the Democratic Party has done the same things the Republicans are accused of, just not at the fire station, but at places like high schools and the courthouse.”
The party chairs then went on to trade on-air barbs, with Nesbitt accusing Carter of lying.
“This is what we call chicken politics, when you’re in a political game,” asserted Nesbitt.
“Wow, that’s a new term for me,” responded Carter. “I don’t know what ‘chicken politics’ is. … I’m going to yield the rest of my time back to Chad Nesbitt. I think the more time he spends on the air, the more people want to vote for Democrats.”