League of Conservation Voters accused of false, libelous claims in political mailer

Rep. Chris Humphrey via Facebook

RALEIGH — A widely-distributed political mailer by Conservation Votes PAC, the political arm of the N.C. League of Conservation Voters, is receiving renewed heat after a second of its claims has been challenged. The piece attacks state Rep. Chris Humphrey (R-Lenoir), saying he “got to Raleigh and went hog wild with taxpayer money,” listing a few claims as proof.

Earlier in August, the N.C. Republican House Caucus, of which Humphrey is a member, blasted the mailer, calling it defamatory and saying one of the claims, that Humphrey used his position as an elected official to secure “$50,000 in taxpayer money to go to a non-profit directly connected to his wife,” was simply false.

The NCRHC countered the claim by saying, “Not only was Rep. Humphrey not elected at the time, he was not married at the time that S.B. 469 was introduced nor when it became law. Rep. Humphrey’s wife was not even affiliated with the Pride of Kinston, Inc. at those times and her connection to that organization is as an unpaid volunteer.”

The caucus then demanded that the League of Conservation Voters “immediately and completely retract this advertisement as specified above, and to cease sending out any of the information including in their defamatory advertisements.”

Humphrey said, “A full apology and retraction sent to the voters of Lenoir and Pitt Counties is more than warranted.”

Now a second claim on the mailer has been called into question. Joe Stewart, vice president of government relations for the Independent Insurance Agents of North Carolina, sent a letter on Aug. 10 to the LCV asking for clarification on another claim on the mailer, which accused Humphrey of “voting for pro insurance company legislation that would directly benefit his company’s bottom line.”

“As the lead advocate for the nearly 8,000 members of the Independent Insurance Agents of NC (IIANC) who live and work in communities all across North Carolina, this claim really jumped out at me since I track legislation on insurance issues pretty closely for our organization and could not for the life of me think of what you would be referring to in leveling such a serious allegation,” Stewart said in the letter to LCV executive director Carrie Clark.

Stewart said the bills which are listed are not ones that could benefit any agent’s “bottom line.” One was a bill sponsored by Democrats that was unrelated to insurance, and the other simply set the revenue rate for the Department of Insurance for that year. The second bill, HB 1080, was non-controversial and many politicians that the LCV endorsed also voted for or supported the bill, including Gov. Roy Cooper and almost all Democrat House and Senate members.

“Whatever the exception is that your organization takes to Rep. Humphrey’s vote on HB 1080, there sure seem to be a lot of folks you’ve endorsed who supported it along with him,” Stewart said to conclude the letter. “So, the question that I hope you will answer is this: how exactly are HB 1030 and HB 1080 proof of the accusation you make against Representative Humphrey in this mailing?”

NSJ reached out to the League of Conservation Voters but has not received a response by time to print. Stewart said they haven’t responded to his letter and he “would be surprised if they did.”