Publisher's note: This was just to me by Contributor Esther Graham, which was written by Brant Clifton of "The Haymaker," who recounts, in a truer narrative form (than Esther's recent account) of an encounter between Carteret County Republican activist Jessica Hult and Republican officials at the recent North Carolina Republican State Convention.
At BCN, we invite a response from the responsible party officials. Considering our traffic in the cyber sphere, they would be wise to do so, and as soon as is possible.
Carteret County Republican activist Jessica Hult had an eye-opening experience as a delegate to the recent NCGOP convention in Greensboro:
"I've been a delegate to the state convention a number of times. I've been to the national convention. I've NEVER had anyone talk to -- or treat me -- like this. NEVER. They were bullies, and nobody likes bullies."
The Haymaker caught up with the still-shaken Hult by telephone Wednesday evening. She said her phone has been ringing off the hook with party activists -- and a number of attorneys -- offering support and assistance.
The episode in question began last Saturday at the Greensboro convention. Hult said she was distributing stacks of THESE FLIERS to individuals who were planning to pass them out to convention-goers as they left the convention hall:
"My first indication that something was up was when I heard someone shouting: 'There she is! There she is!' I looked over to see two guys in suits hurrying over toward me. I didn't recognize the two men until they got close and I saw their name tags."
She said the men were NCGOP vice-chairman Wayne King, and Paul Foley -- introduced to Hult as "the party attorney":
"They both appeared to be very upset. Mr. Foley suggested that the fliers I was handing out were not even legal and were likely a violation of campaign finance laws. He wanted to know who I was doing this for, and who was paying for it. I told him these fliers were designed and distributed with the idea of asking questions on behalf of a large portion of delegates here today at the convention."
Hult said King "didn't like" the fliers, and wanted examples from her about how he had meddled in primaries or run "decoy candidates." Hult said King also suggested that the fliers were "slanderous and defamatory":
"Did I wish they were worded a little better? Certainly. The grammar was questionable. But as far as the points the fliers made, I thought they were valid questions that needed to be asked and answered."
Hult said she didn't draw up the fliers:
"I got asked to help pass them out, and I agreed to do it. I am a woman of my word. I do what I promise to do."
She said, at that point, Speaker Tillis and Senator Bob Rucho joined the discussion. (The event was occurring near where most of the Mecklenburg County delegation was seated.) Hult said Rucho questioned her about the fliers in a very quiet, diplomatic tone. She said Tillis took a different route:
"Mr. Tillis was clearly upset. He put his finger in my face and lectured me very sternly about slander and libel. He was the scariest of them all. If the idea was to physically intimidate me, it was working."
Hult said she was properly credentialed as a delegate, so she was authorized to be in the convention area. She said she was not aware of any rules or regulations that prohibited the distribution of fliers in the convention:
"They wanted me to cease and desist -- to stop passing out the fliers. They wanted me to throw them all away. I refused, and they seemed surprised by that."
She said Tillis asked her for examples of meddling in campaigns and running "decoy" candidates:
"He looked at the flier and asked 'Is this about Art Williams'? I told him that Mr. Williams is one example that is being looked into."
Arthur Williams is a former Democrat legislator near the Outer Banks who has switched to the Republican Party and is running for an open state seat. He is in a July runoff with Tea Party favorite Mattie Lawson, whose supporters are alleging that Williams was put into the race by Tillis and other Raleigh special interests.
Hult said Tillis told her party rules allow him to get in the middle of party primaries:
"He told me he hadn't done much of that this year. But he told me to wait two years, and I'll see him in the middle of a whole lot of primaries."
Hult said she finally gave the men the name of another delegate involved in flier distribution, and the four stalked away from her in search of that person:
"I was scared. My legs turned to jelly. I had to call my husband on my phone and talk to him as I walked out to my car. I sat in my car for about 30 minutes just to calm down."
She said Tillis and King were the most aggressive of her four interrogators:
"They were both talking to me very menacingly -- you will throw these out. You better stop doing this right now, if you know what's good for you. You will stop passing these things out. I told them I wasn't going to quit."
Hult said the hubbub may have increased interest in her fliers:
"As I was leaving the convention, a man walked up to me, pointed at my stack of fliers, and asked me for one. I told him that I was told not to pass any more out. He took one off the top of the stack anyway. A few other people did too."
We've emailed a request for comment on this episode to NCGOP spokesman Rob Lockwood. We haven't heard anything back yet. If we do get anything -- we'll give it to you here.