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Haywood Republicans again stung by social media

More and more, Facebook is becoming a place not only to catch up with friends, read the news and look at pictures of cats, it’s also becoming a place where one can get into a lot of political trouble. 

Last year, members of a conservative Haywood County splinter group were ousted from the North Carolina Republican Party for disloyalty, after a series of Facebook posts displeased party higher-ups. Months later, a Haywood County GOP official filed a lawsuit — currently in the courts — over a chain of posts that mocked her with memes. 

Last week, Republican Cornelia Cree resigned from the Haywood County Board of Elections one day before a disciplinary hearing by the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement would have likely removed her. The problem? That’s right, Facebook. 

“This election is urgent because the Democrats have the following plans: Legalization of pedophilia,” said Cree in Facebook post she made in early September. 

“Not hardly,” said Haywood County Democratic Party Chair Myrna Campbell when asked if the legalization of sex with children was one of the party’s policy goals. 

Cree didn’t stop there, opining that Democratic opposition to Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination was somehow meant to shield the Catholic Church from legal exposure to hundreds of forthcoming abuse claims, and that such an act would in effect legalize child abuse. 

“I have never heard that position given by any official in the Democratic Party,” Campbell said. 

While Cree is entitled to her personal opinions no matter how outside the realm of common decency they may be, the fact that she was appointed to the county’s elections board earlier this year means she’s supposed to curb her own political speech. Election board members are charged with an array of duties related to elections, including scheduling early voting and counting ballots. 

“The board has to work with both parties, so they can’t be partisan in their stances,” Campbell said. “As I understand it, the post had a Republican heading on it, so she was obviously identifying with the Republican Party when she posted it.”

As to where Cree got the idea, Campbell couldn’t say. 

“I have no idea. It’s just so extreme I just can’t even identify with it,” she said. “Ms. Cree, I met her once, she was particularly rude to me when I met her the first time, so I would say she’s not known for her diplomacy.”

In sharp contrast to Cree’s post, her resignation elicited a rare but welcome chorus of bipartisanship; according to the Raleigh News & Observer, NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse said Cree’s statement “impugns” the character of Democrats and calls into question Cree’s moral character. Likewise, Campbell said she doesn’t believe that all Republicans — in Haywood County, or across the country — should be judged by Cree’s statement.

“The Republican Party is so fragmented right now with the extreme right,” she said. “The mainstream Republicans, I don’t think they believe this type of thing, but the extreme Republicans make the most noise. They’re the loudest, so that’s what you hear.”

Cree was unavailable for comment; both the post and her Facebook account had been removed as of press time. Local Republican attorney Rusty McLean will take Cree’s spot on the board, which must have two Republicans and two Democrats. 

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