FIRST ON 3: McCrory: Cooper could be witness against NC in voter ID suit


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Gov. Pat McCrory says Attorney General Roy Cooper could wind up a witness against the state of North Carolina in a lawsuit the US Department of Justice filed against the state’s new voter ID law.

“Political statements by an attorney general or by any lawyer can have a detriment(al) impact on their ability to defend our state,” McCrory said.

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During a visit to Cape Fear Community College, McCrory, a Republican, was asked if he agrees with the opinion of one of his legal advisers that Cooper, a Democrat, compromised his ability to represent the state in the lawsuit. McCrory said he agreed with the assessment of counsel Bob Stephens.

“The dilemma we have is the attorney general, even after the bill was signed and even after two lawsuits were submitted against the state, the attorney general continued to send out political mailings and make public comments very strongly against the laws that the North Carolina legislature (passed) and then I signed and that now the Attorney General of the United States is challenging us on,” McCrory said. “And so it is very important that I have someone fighting for us who agrees with voter ID.”

McCrory has retained at taxpayers’ expense a South Carolina lawyer with close ties to the Republican Party who bills $360 an hour.

“His comments are even in the docket, which was presented to the state of North Carolina from Attorney General (Eric) Holder,” McCrory said. “So our own attorney general is quoted in the lawsuit against the state of North Carolina. That puts us at a disadvantage.”

Cooper has said it is his duty as both an elected official and legal professional to vigorously defend the state in court, even if he personally disagrees with arguments made by his office.

“Our office has successfully defended laws that the Attorney General doesn’t agree with before,” NCDOJ spokeswoman Noelle Talley told WWAY in an e-mail Friday. “We don’t think this is the time to be wasting taxpayers’ money on unnecessary outside lawyers. This office will continue to do its duty under the law to defend the state in court.”