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ONLY ON 3: DA candidates talk about the Soles bill to split the district

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WILMINGTON (WWAY) - Last Thursday, State Senator R.C. Soles introduced two bills in Raleigh that are stirring up controversy. One would line the pockets of his's longtime political ally District Attorney Rex Gore. The other would split the judicial district where Gore just lost his seat as D.A. The timing of both bills is at the very least suspicious. Today, the Charlotte Observer called for the State Senate to table the bills and for Soles to resign. Now, a high-profile political watchdog is calling for an investigation.

"Soles has a history of abusing his office and abusing his power," says Joe Sinsheimer, a consultant for the Democratic Party. "And it's incumbent upon Senator Basnight to take a stand and publicly rebuke Senator Soles for this kind of self-serving and embarrassing legislation."

You may remember Sinsheimer as a major player in the Thomas Wright investigation, which ultimately landed the Wilmington lawmaker in prison. Now, he has Soles in his sights. He's crying foul on Soles's efforts to up the retirement pay for outgoing District Attorney Rex Gore, and his attempt to split the judicial district, where he lives, less than a month after the primary election.

"It's an absolute insult to voters," said Sinsheimer, "And that's another reason why it should be quickly killed. The idea of taking away people's free choice. District Attorney is an elected position, and R.C. Soles shouldn't be allowed to appoint who he wants."

The bill proposes splitting the 13th Judicial District in two - making Brunswick County its own district, and Columbus and Bladen County a separate district. It would let whoever wins the election be the D.A. of the newly drawn district where he lives. The governor would then appoint a district attorney for the other district. Jon David, a Brunswick County Republican, and Butch Pope, a Columbus County Democrat, are vying to be the D.A. of the 13th District.

"Here I am spending money and time in Brunswick County and then I find out just by this bill, if it passes, I wouldn't be serving the people of Brunswick County," Butch Pope said.

David has a reputation as an aggressive prosecutor and if the judicial district is split, he would be unable to serve in Soles's district because he bill essentially guarantees that a Democrat would win.

In a statement... David said the Soles bill leaves him wondering how he can campaign in counties where he may not serve. "If the split occurs it should be done in such a way as to ensure the integrity of the electoral process," David said. "I strongly believe that the people, not politicians, should decide who will be their next district attorney."

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The Charlotte Observer is calling for state Sen. R.C. Soles to resign. Citing a story that aired on WWAY yesterday, the Observer's editorial board says the senator's maneuvers in Raleigh reflect a rot in politics.

Last week, Soles introduced two controversial bills. One would up the retirement pay for Soles's ally, outgoing district attorney Rex Gore. The other would split the judicial district where Soles lives, less than a month after the primary election.

Democratic political consultant Joe Sinsheimer is also crying foul.

"I think that Soles's filing of the bill is an abuse of power, and I would hope that the Attorney General would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether Soles has committed a crime by introducing the bill," Sinsheimer said. "It's clearly special interest legislation designed as a political payback."

Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger is calling on Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight and the Democratic leadership to assure the public that Sen. Soles's bills will not be considered.

We'll have much more, coming up at 6 p.m., including what the two men running for the DA seat in the 13th judicial district have to say about the bills.

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