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Tuesday, January 29, 2013 11:57 PM

Democratic party chair: 'I am handling this'

By Janet Conner-Knox Times Staff Writer Some Wilson County Democrats received a letter Monday night from the party chairman, Asa Gregory, asking them to trust his handling of a fraud case. Gregory filed a police report in Garner indicating more than $400 had been spent at a store located at 250 Shenstone Blvd., Garner. The phone book lists a Staples store at that location. According to the e-mailed letter, Gregory has been working with Garner police, Democratic leaders and state board of elections officials to come to a solution to the problem. I would like to remind all of you that county officers, such as myself, are elected to lead and to handle matters such as these without causing undue harm to our partys image in the community. After the last couple of cycles and the incident in the spring, I would have hoped that you all would be smart enough to trust your WCDP elected leadership to handle this, the letter stated. Gregory said the process is not one done quickly, but carefully. The Garner Police report was filed Jan. 3. The last known time the account was secure was Sept. 22. As of Tuesday afternoon, Garner Police did not have a name attached to the report of who committed the fraud. Officials said the matter is considered under investigation and they wont be able to move forward without some direction from Gregory. On Tuesday, Gregory said he has been deliberate in going forward for a good reason. The reason I have not moved forward is that I want to make sure all of the facts were verified before I put someones life in that place, Gregory said. That is why I have been taking so much time. Gregory said the issue is there were charges that were unauthorized with the Democrats debit card. Gregory named the person suspected of making the unauthorized purchase, but hey havent been named in a report or charged by police at this time. No matter what the purchase was in Garner ... because she was the only one who had the debit card, I did not authorize and was unaware she was going to do that, Gregory said. He said others in the party also did not know. More importantly, the county executive committee was not made aware or allowed to authorize such a purchase. Mark Bibbs, former Democratic nominee for House District 8, said he believes Gregorys statements and knows the kind of man he is. Asa Gregory is an honest man who has a great heart and always tells the truth, Bibbs said. Gregory said in his emailed letter he would communicate with party members in the near future and will continue to handle this incident. I will call a meeting to deal with this and other matters in mid- to late- February. I will mail out notices outside of the two week period required to notify you all of such a meeting. For now, please understand that I am handling this, I have been handling this, and I will continue to handle this. The best thing is to trust me and the appropriate officials to resolve this.

Democrats earlier last year, in a separate incident, had filed another complaint when they found their bank account had been drained by a friend of a former treasurer. Some Democrats expressed they would have liked to have known about the problem and thought Gregory should have told them earlier. Gregory said he did not hide the theft from the party, but handled the incident. But last month, Gregory received a letter from Zette McArn, the president of the African American Caucus-Wilson County Democrat Party, telling him more transparency was needed. When I spoke to Mr. Gregory back in December, I talked about transparency, protocol, proper procedure, poor planning, negligence, etc., McArn said Tuesday night. I had no idea the status of the county party with the state board of elections. The letter was direct. We admonish the chair of this county chapter of the NC Democratic Party to the very best of his ability or capability to make a fervent effort to adhere and administer in all the affairs regarding and governing the Wilson County Democratic Party the NC Plan of Organization. And to keep all, let me reiterate all county executive members, including all established NCDP auxiliaries in this county, abreast of news, actions and events with regards to the Wilson County Democratic Party, the letter stated. McArn said in the letter that implementing proper procedure and protocol as outlined per the NCDP Plan of Organization keeps the organization in the right place to do business, attending to the affairs of this county party when it comes to being in compliance on a local, state, district and national level. The letter indicated the need for Gregory not to expect Democrats to blindly follow your rules without discussion or deliberation. Instead, the letter asked for more transparency. For future reference, Mr. Gregory, full disclosure is the mandate. janet@wilsontimes.com | 265-7847