ONLY ON 3 UPDATE: DA to check out commissioners' e-mails
email300.jpg

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- An update to a story you saw ONLY ON 3. Earlier this week, we found that New Hanover County Commissioner Bill Caster was using county email for his reelection campaign. Yesterday, former commission candidate Justin LaNasa claimed commissioners Jonathan Barfield and Jason Thompson were guilty of the same thing in regards to the quarter cent sales tax increase.

We spoke with District Attorney Ben David today. He didn't want to comment on camera, but he said he will look into the claims. That's not to say the commissioners did anything wrong, but David says there is a law that county employees cannot use a public server for political use.

We found several e-mails Caster sent from his county account asking voters for their support. Other e-mails from the New Hanover County computer system show both Thompson and Barfield e-mailed community members urging them to support the quarter-cent sales tax increase. Sales tax brochures the county produced were attached to some of the e-mails in an effort to educate voters.

We spoke to Barfield by phone today. He said as a county, commissioners have the ability to educate people on issues. LaNasa says the commissioners used their county resources for the wrong reasons.

One main question that needs to be answered is what does state statue mean when it says county employees cannot use county resources for "political purposes?"

David says he plans to evaluate the emails before making any decision to take action.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.

Well Mr David finally called me on tuesday an i will be going over the 2500 counts of

153A‑99. County employee political activity.

(a) Purpose. The purpose of this section is to ensure that county employees are not subjected to political or partisan coercion while performing their job duties, to ensure that employees are not restricted from political activities while off duty, and to ensure that public funds are not used for political or partisan activities.

It is not the purpose of this section to allow infringement upon the rights of employees to engage in free speech and free association. Every county employee has a civic responsibility to support good government by every available means and in every appropriate manner. Employees shall not be restricted from affiliating with civic organizations of a partisan or political nature, nor shall employees, while off duty, be restricted from attending political meetings, or advocating and supporting the principles or policies of civic or political organizations, or supporting partisan or nonpartisan candidates of their choice in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the State and the Constitution and laws of the United States of America.

(b) Definitions. For the purposes of this section:

(1) "County employee" or "employee" means any person employed by a county or any department or program thereof that is supported, in whole or in part, by county funds;

(2) "On duty" means that time period when an employee is engaged in the duties of his or her employment; and

(3) "Workplace" means any place where an employee engages in his or her job duties.

(c) No employee while on duty or in the workplace may:

(1) Use his or her official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election or nomination for political office; or

(2) Coerce, solicit, or compel contributions for political or partisan purposes by another employee.

(d) No employee may be required as a duty or condition of employment, promotion, or tenure of office to contribute funds for political or partisan purposes.

(e) No employee may use county funds, supplies, or equipment for partisan purposes, or for political purposes except where such political uses are otherwise permitted by law.

(f) To the extent that this section conflicts with the provisions of any local act, local ordinance, resolution, or policy, this section prevails to the extent of the conflict. (1991, c. 619, s. 1; 1993, c. 298, s. 1.)

and other charges

Whatever can be said about the "educational" nature of some of the e-mails in question--there can be little doubt that some were blatently "political"--just read their contents in total. Will DA follow the law-or will we see another example of let's protect the good ole boy network? Maybe Justin should turn over e-mails to State AG--if we cant get an objective review here.

Ben will never go against his own interest and prosecute a politician . Only the regular unconnected citizens get Ben justice. Ask the Williams family of ABC infamy and the cronies that built all the new stores. Ben is for Ben

All Lanasa is doing is proving his ignorance.. And theat besides being a sore loser, he is a vindictive individual. Mr. Lanasa, for someone who is so concerned about tax dollars, you sure are wasting them yourselv by this absurdity sir!

. . . . . and with a smack on the wrist it's history!

What is is? What is political purposes?