Our Response

Our response to a recent (April 21 @ 3:53PM) post by Robert M. Levy, current Moore County Board of Education member, on Facebook (facebook.com/GOPChairman) attacking Moore County Board of Education at-large candidates Rollie Sampson and Robin Calcutt.

The Moore County Democratic Party opposes partisanship on nonpartisan boards, including the Moore County Board of Education.

We oppose policies and candidates who would seek to wield a partisan agenda on a board that is nonpartisan by law.

We oppose undermining the great Moore County and American education system.

We oppose the flagrant partisanship, ineptitude, divisiveness, and lack of an in-depth understanding of the issues facing the Moore County Schools shown by at-large candidates Pauline Bruno and Ken Benway.

We will unite with all of our neighbors—Democratic voters, Republican voters and Unaffiliated voters alike—in support of Moore County Schools and the American ideals we cherish.

Maurice Holland, Jr., Chair

Two of Five Candidates Share Views in School Board Candidate Forum

School BoardCandidate Forum
Flanked by empty seats, at-large school board candidates Robin Calcutt, left and Rollie Sampson, right, field questions from moderator Terrance Ruth in a forum organized by the NAACP of Moore County and Public School Advocates.

The only scheduled public forum in advance of the upcoming Moore County Board of Education primary went off on Thursday with less than half the candidates participating.

Three seats are up for grabs this year in an election that has the potential to flip the political makeup of the board. Since the 2020 election, many high-profile votes on issues like masking, Critical Race Theory and controversial library books have fallen 4-to-3, with the three newest members of the board opposed to the established majority.

Neither of the incumbent board members serving in the board’s two at-large seats, Libby Carter and Ed Dennison, filed for re-election. Five newcomers have filed for those seats — Ken Benway of Whispering Pines, Pauline Bruno of Pinehurst, Robin Calcutt and Rollie Sampson of Southern Pines, and Forrest Leach of Seven Lakes — triggering a primary to pare the field down to four.

All five had originally agreed to appear at Pinehurst’s Village Hall on Thursday in a forum organized by the Moore County NAACP and Public School Advocates. The forum was promoted with the League of Women Voters of Moore County, which routinely organizes forums for general and non-partisan races, as a co-sponsor.

Peggy Crawford of the League of Women Voters initially took the lead in organizing the forum and communicating with candidates.

After the forum was publicized as involving all five at-large candidates, Leach, then Bruno and Benway, withdrew. Crawford said they did not offer an alternative date.

“We went back to the group, talked about it and reached out to the three candidates to ask if there was something we could do that would encourage them to come,” Crawford said.

“They said they were pretty much booked between now and when early voting began.”

Although the school board race is nonpartisan, the Moore County Republican Party is supporting Benway and Bruno, although Leach and Calcutt are also Republicans. The local GOP also endorsed the board’s three newest members in 2020.

Crawford said that the League of Women Voters withdrew its sponsorship of the forum after conferring with the state-level organization. Policies of the League, which is nonpartisan, dictate that the group can’t hold a forum without the majority of candidates.

That left Thursday’s forum to go forward with Calcutt and Sampson. Terrance Ruth, a social work professor at N.C. State University and candidate for mayor of Raleigh, moderated.

Both Calcutt and Sampson have spent time as district employees. Calcutt, a Moore County native, worked for Moore County Schools for 34 years before retiring in 2018. During her tenure she taught at Union Pines and served as principal at New Century and West Pine middle schools before being promoted to district director for planning, accountability and research.

Calcutt is now a professor and chair of the education department at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg.

Sampson moved to Moore County in 2005 with her husband’s Army career. A veteran herself, she has served as a teacher in Moore County Schools and became the district’s first military family liaison in 2017. She has served in that position while earning a master’s degree in counseling. The district is working toward replacing her before the general election.

Both candidates shared similar perspectives on issues facing public education: from ballooning class sizes in fourth grade and up to Moore County Schools’ persistent problems running reliable bus routes.

Many of those problems boil down to the same root cause: lack of funding to attract and keep employees. Sampson, whose children graduated from Pinecrest, said she’s running to address those systemic problems that affect the experiences that all children, not just those connected to the military, have in school.

“I’ve experienced every budget cut as a parent with a child in the school. I’m tired of seeing that happen,” she said. “I’m not running for the board of ed because of that position; I’m running as a parent who’s concerned about the future of our schools.”

When it comes to filling empty teaching positions while simultaneously building a staff whose demographics more closely resemble the students that they teach, Calcutt and Sampson said they would both explore building incentives for high school students to study education and return to Moore County Schools to teach, and to help members of the district’s more diverse support staff qualify to teach.

But they said the district can’t do any of that without more funding from the state and county. State funding hasn’t kept pace with increases in teacher salaries or the district’s enrollment growth over the last decade. The school board has long since cut popular programs like International Baccalaureate at Pinecrest, Spanish immersion at West End Elementary, and year-round calendars at four elementary schools.

The school board’s current budget request to the Moore County Board of Commissioners seeks to gain back from the most recent round of budget cuts in 2018 — when 15 teaching positions were cut — and to increase pay for support staff like custodians, cafeteria workers and teacher assistants.

“I do recognize and appreciate the county commissioners and their role, but I believe that if we’re going to have the Moore County that we want, we have to be fully funded with our budget,” said Calcutt.

“I was really excited to see the 7-0 budget approval from our current board. That was a good sign. I think if we’re going to stay innovative and competitive and make sure that our students have access to what they need for their futures, then we have to fully fund it. Our people are not asking for fluff: they’re asking for what we need to do the job of educating our students.”

In the last few years Moore County Schools’ student test scores have come under closer scrutiny. Proficiency rates vary by school, but schools serving a significant population of economically disadvantaged students tend to have higher proportions of students who read and do math below grade level.

Both Calcutt and Sampson said that expanding preschool access would go far toward providing a more level playing field for students when they enter kindergarten. Sampson is also a proponent of hiring more teaching assistants for the lower grades so that struggling students can receive more individualized attention.

“If we really want to see better outcomes and scores in those lower grades for our at-risk students, then we put the resources back in the classroom that we know they need,” she said. “We all know it, yet we’re not doing it and we haven’t done it for a decade.”

When asked how they would handle challenges to controversial content, like the recent challenge to the children’s novel “George” at Union Pines and McDeeds Creek Elementary, both Calcutt and Sampson said they would support the decision of school staff and the districtwide committees assembled to evaluate those challenges.

Calcutt said that keeping the best teachers in the district requires a culture of respect for them as licensed professionals. She hopes to be elected to a school board that embraces a culture based on pursuing what’s best for students rather than scoring political points.

“That culture means a lot, and I want to say, right now, that it’s going to take the community. It can’t just be the Board of Education members doing this work,” she said.

“It’s got to come from each one of us. … If we want our schools to be successful, then we have to step up and let everyone know that we want a culture that cares and wants to have the best education possible for the children of Moore County.”

Ginni Thomas also texted Meadows about another friend who shared election fraud conspiracy theories

By Katelyn Polantz and Andrew Kaczynski, CNN

Updated 12:43 PM ET, Wed April 20, 2022Virginia "Ginni" Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, arrives to watch Amy Coney Barrett take the Constitutional Oath on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, October 26, 2020. Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, arrives to watch Amy Coney Barrett take the Constitutional Oath on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, October 26, 2020.

(CNN) A day before the 2020 presidential election, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas mugged for the camera wearing a Trump baseball cap with her friend Connie Hair, chief of staff to GOP Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, at an event supporting the then-President in pictures posted on Facebook at the time.

A month later, in her now-infamous texts to Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows, Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, referred to Hair and claims about election fraud while urging Meadows to fight the election result.

Around that same time, Hair’s boss, Gohmert, filed or supported two lawsuits challenging the election that eventually landed before the Supreme Court.

Ginni Thomas’ years-long relationship with Hair, including social outings that Clarence Thomas attended, as well as her texting with Meadows add another dimension to an ongoing debate over whether her husband should recuse himself from cases related to the 2020 election and the January 6 insurrection, especially when his wife is closely aligned to people who advocated overturning the election.

To be sure, Thomas and Hair were voicing their opinions on the election. At the same time, however, Hair was a top aide to a congressman who would file or sign on to election litigation that landed before the court where Thomas sits. And Hair herself posted on Facebook about the need to fight in court over the election.

“Was on a call with the Trump campaign manager and legal folks for a briefing this morning. WE ARE SEEING THIS THROUGH TO THE END OF THE COURT/COUNT BATTLE,” Hair posted on November 7, four days after the election. And on November 21, Hair posted: “Massive amounts of voter fraud in big cities throughout the contested states.”

It’s rare for the spouse of a Supreme Court justice to be so politically active, and legal ethicists say a line may be crossed when Ginni Thomas’ interests collide with her husband’s work. Some say the reputation of the Supreme Court is at stake.

“Mrs. Thomas has a First Amendment right to speak publicly and forcefully on issues that might come before the Supreme Court without thereby forcing recusal of her husband,” said Stephen Gillers of NYU School of Law. “But in the current situation, her interests are caught up in cases that could come before the court.”Gillers believes that Clarence Thomas should recuse himself from any upcoming cases concerning the Capitol attack. Following the revelation of the Meadows texts, Democratic senators have introduced legislation meant to address questions of recusal and other ethics issues.Washington is a town where powerful people frequently hobnob, and Ginni Thomas maintains she kept her conservative political activism separate from her marriage. Her husband has not commented publicly on calls for him to recuse — or even resign — after his wife’s texts to Meadows were revealed.A friend of the Thomases who is familiar with the situation contends Ginni Thomas and Hair say they did not talk about specific cases that Gohmert was involved in and that Hair did not know about Gohmert’s lawsuits before they were filed.”Hair is a friend of Ginni Thomas,” the source said. “They had a general concern about the election.”In the end, the high court took neither Gohmert’s lawsuit against then-Vice President Mike Pence, nor a case from Texas that Gohmert supported against states that Donald Trump lost.Ginni Thomas declined to comment to CNN through a lawyer.Hair didn’t respond to emailed questions about her interactions with the Thomases, nor did Gohmert’s office.Earlier this month, Gohmert defended the ethics of both Ginni and Clarence Thomas on the House floor, saying Ginni Thomas’ activism shouldn’t put pressure on the justice to recuse from any cases. Thomas returned to the bench in person at the Supreme Court this week, after being hospitalized for an illness around the same time that the news of his wife’s communications with the Trump White House about the election broke.”Now, Justice Thomas is being told he needs to recuse himself because he has a wife who thinks for herself. We can’t have that, these liberals say. Yet the hypocrisy rises higher and higher with every comment they make about Justice Thomas and/or his wife,” Gohmert said in his speech.”What happened to the old ideas of liberals being these caring, compassionate people who would never judge one’s spouse by the acts or thoughts of the other?” Gohmert added. “Well, those have gone by the wayside, and we see exactly what is at play here.”Ginni Thomas also has a close friendship with Meadows, and a case involving him landed before the Supreme Court in recent months. In that case, the court allowed the release of hundreds of documents from the Trump White House to the House select committee investigating January 6. Clarence Thomas was the only one to publicly dissent.The documents in that case did not include Meadows’ texts with Ginni Thomas that he had voluntarily turned over to the committee. The committee has said it will seek to interview Ginni Thomas, CNN has reported.

Dinners with friends

The Thomases have kept in contact with Hair for years, according to several photos and messages shared on Facebook by Hair and others and obtained by CNN.In 2016, Hair posted about attending a Colbie Caillat concert, sending her thanks for a “fun” evening to Ginni Thomas. Hair posed for photos with Clarence Thomas and at dinner with him, his wife and others the night of the concert, according to Facebook posts.Hair has worked in Gohmert’s office since 2010, according to congressional staffing records.In 2017, she took a new round of pictures with Clarence and Ginni Thomas, this time inside the justice’s chambers. That day, January 20, 2017, Clarence Thomas had sworn in Pence as vice president. In her Facebook post, Hair calls the Thomases “great friends.”And in 2019, Hair took part in a meeting at the White House with Trump and Ginni Thomas to discuss hiring more Trump loyalists in his administration, according to a senior Trump administration official.Over the past decade, Ginni Thomas and Hair’s photos together and posts tagging each other are numerous.Then after the 2020 election and January 6 Capitol riot, Hair on her Facebook wall shared coverage of Clarence Thomas dissenting on a Supreme Court election case, writing, “GOD BLESS HIM.” The case was a too-late attempt by Pennsylvania Republicans to challenge the state’s use of mail-in ballots, and Thomas expressed a fear that mail-in balloting could allow for fraud in future elections.And in text messages to Meadows, which CNN obtained last month, Ginni Thomas quotes Hair in November 2020 as she implores the Trump White House to stick with its claims of election fraud.”This war is psychological. PSYOP. It’s what I did in the military. They are using every weapon they have to try to make us quit… It is fake, fraud and if people would take a deep breath and look at things through that filter we will see this through and win,” Ginni Thomas texted Meadows on November 14, 2020.She then cites Hair’s name in the text, implying the words came from her friend. The source familiar with the Thomases said Ginni Thomas was cutting and pasting Hair’s own words from another text chain, to send to Meadows.

Gohmert headed to SCOTUS

Soon after these texts, Gohmert’s office took part in two cases that challenged the election result at the Supreme Court.

First, Texas’ attorney general went straight to the high court to sue Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan and Wisconsin — all swing states Joe Biden had won — claiming they had conducted their elections unconstitutionally.

The case theoretically could have given the Supreme Court the power to throw out the presidential election result. Gohmert was one of 126 Republican members of Congress to sign on to an amicus brief supporting Texas before the high court.

On December 11, just days after the case had been filed, a majority of justices rejected the attempt, saying Texas had not shown it had the legal right to challenge how another state conducts its election.

Clarence Thomas signed on to a two-sentence statement, penned by Justice Samuel Alito, arguing a procedural point that the court should not have dismissed the case outright because it fell under the court’s “original jurisdiction.” But importantly, Thomas and Alito did note that they would grant no other relief to Texas in the case.

A source close to Thomas believes that the justice’s position on that case and others shows he was not swayed by his wife’s interests.

Even with that swift loss at the Supreme Court, Gohmert’s office wasn’t finished aiming election challenges at the high court.

In late December, Gohmert tried with a case of his own. The congressman sued Pence directly. The lawsuit asked the court to force Pence to stop the Electoral College certification of Biden’s win.

That prompted Pence’s lawyers to speak up in court, asking a federal judge to dismiss Gohmert’s case. It was a crucial early moment of the vice president publicly defending his role of presiding over the Senate. Pence has stood by his position that the vice president couldn’t overturn the election and courts should not have either.

The Gohmert case eventually made its way to the Supreme Court on January 6, the day of the Electoral College certification.

“Our nation stands at the crossroads of a Constitutional crisis fraught by chaos and turmoil brought into play by a viral plague, anti-democratic interference from domestic and foreign sources, and hastily enacted State voting measures ostensibly placed to protect voters from catching the plague,” Gohmert’s filing said.

The court denied its request the next day, with no dissents noted.

CNN’s Ariane de Vogue, Ryan Nobles, Zachary Cohen and Gabby Orr contributed to this report.

Former Trump aide Meadows registered to vote in three states simultaneously -WashPost


2 minute read
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows in Washington

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows speaks to reporters following a television interview, outside the White House in Washington, U.S. October 21, 2020. REUTERS/Al Drago/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, April 22 (Reuters) – Donald Trump’s former chief of staff Mark Meadows, who echoed the Republican former president’s false claims of widespread fraud in the 2020 election, was registered to vote in three states at the same time, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

Meadows was simultaneously registered to vote in North Carolina, Virginia and South Carolina for three overlapping weeks — up until last week — and is still registered in the latter two, according to state records the Post said it had obtained.


Meadow’s voting record first drew scrutiny following media reports that he had registered to vote with an address in North Carolina that he did not reside in, own or visit, prompting North Carolina officials to investigate.

The former White House chief of staff, who served as a U.S. representative from North Carolina until he joined Trump’s administration in 2020, was removed from the state’s voter rolls, officials said this month. read more


Trump’s claims of voter fraud, which have been rejected by numerous state officials, court rulings, Republican-sanctioned recounts and his own Justice Department, fueled his supporters’ deadly Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Meadows is a key figure in Congress’ investigation into the attack, but has defied lawmakers’ subpoena to testify. The House of Representatives in December approved a criminal referral of the matter to the Department of Justice, which has not said whether it will take any action.


Representatives for Meadows could not be immediately reached for comment. The Washington Post reported that a Meadows spokesman had declined comment to the newspaper.

The Post noted that Meadows was the keynote speaker at a Conservative Partner Institute Election Integrity Summit in Atlanta on Feb. 19. “What you’re doing is investing in the future of our country and making sure only legal votes count,” Meadows was quoted as saying.

Writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Leslie Adler

Republican Kevin McCarthy under fire after audio shows he discussed urging Trump to resign

By David Morgan

3 minute read
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., U.S., May 2, 2019. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

WASHINGTON, April 22 (Reuters) – Congressman Kevin McCarthy, the top Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives, came under fire from some of his fellow party members, after an audio recording showed him saying that then-President Donald Trump should resign over the Jan. 6, 2021, U.S. Capitol riot.

The comments, which McCarthy had denied hours before the recording emerged, could undermine his widely known ambition to become House speaker next year if Republicans take control of the chamber in November’s midterm elections, as expected.


But as criticism of the House minority leader mounted on Twitter, the Washington Post reported that he and Trump had spoken by phone and that the Republican former president was not upset about McCarthy’s remarks. That could significantly mute the rank-and-file reaction among Trump supporters.

The audio – recorded days after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, delaying certification of Democrat Joe Biden’s 2020 presidential election victory – depicts a conversation between McCarthy and Representative Liz Cheney, who was ousted from party leadership weeks later over her opposition to Trump.


McCarthy told Cheney he planned to call Trump to discuss a mechanism for invoking the 25th Amendment, under which then-Vice President Mike Pence and Cabinet members could have removed the president from office.

“The only discussion I would have with him is that I think this will pass, and it would be my recommendation you should resign,” McCarthy says in the recording, released on cable news channel MSNBC late on Thursday.


In another audio tape, McCarthy told Republican lawmakers that Trump had admitted bearing some responsibility for the Jan. 6 attack, according to CNN.

McCarthy’s office did not respond to requests for comment on Friday. A Trump spokesman also was not immediately available.

Biden referenced the audio in remarks on Friday, saying the Republicans were “a MAGA party now,” referring to Trump’s “Make America Great Again” slogan. Republicans who oppose Trump privately are scared to do so publicly, he said. read more

The first reference to McCarthy’s comments appeared on Thursday in a New York Times article published as part of a forthcoming book by two Times reporters.

The newspaper also reported that McCarthy told other Republican leaders he wished big tech companies would strip social media accounts from party lawmakers who supported Trump’s false claims of a rigged 2020 election.

McCarthy initially denied the Times account in a statement that called the reporting “totally false and wrong.”

U.S. Representative Adam Kinzinger, one of the few Republican politicians openly critical of Trump, blasted McCarthy on Twitter on Thursday night over his denial.

“Question for Kevin McCarthy … how can you honestly feel ok with the lies? Yes, other people lie too, but you have claimed to fight for a higher purpose,” Kinzinger asked. “Honestly Kevin, is it worth it?”

McCarthy, who has also faced criticism from hard-line conservatives within his caucus, publicly zigzagged on Trump’s culpability for the Jan. 6 riot by first saying the former president bore some responsibility for the violence – but finally visited Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort home in Florida and posed for a photograph with him.

McCarthy’s political fate will depend largely on Trump, who remains the most powerful figure in the Republican Party more than a year after he left office.

The Post cited two unnamed sources as saying that McCarthy and Trump spoke on Thursday night and that the former president was glad the Republican leader did not follow through with his plan to ask him to resign, seeing it as a sign of his continued grip on the Republican Party.

Reporting by David Morgan in Washington, Additional reporting by Alexandra Ulmer in San Francisco Editing by Scott Malone, Jonathan Oatis and Matthew Lewis