Thursday, May 21, 2009

Out-of-control lawmakers pawing pages? Again?

What's this? Out-of-control legislators from Alamance County pawing innocent teenage pages in the state House of Representatives? Again? Say it ain't so, Joe!

It may not be so, but so far the accounts collected by House Sergeant and Arms Bob Samuels don't sound good. Fellow Republican legislators said state Rep. Cary Allred, R-Alamance, had alcohol on his breath, a heated exchange with House Speaker Joe Hackney, planted a kiss on either the lips or the cheek of a page on the House floor and committed what one legislator called a "full body hug" and what another said was a "gruesome bear hug" -- possibly twice --on the night of April 27. Here's a link to Ben Niolet's story. He also was stopped and later ticketed for speeding that night.

Allred says there's nothing to it other than a "witch hunt," and added that he not only sponsored the page, she's more like a granddaughter. But there's obviously more to this. Rep. Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, House Minority Whip, said he urged Allred to settle down that night, and Allred said, "I am 62 years old, and I'm worth $2 million. People ought to show me respect."

I don't think Allred fully understands this, but even if he was worth $100 million, they wouldn't respect him in the House because of his propensity to pop off at every opportunity. Allred likes to debate, especially about legislation he thinks is bad. An example: The recent smoking ban bill, he argued, would lead to the creation of smoking speakeasies where people would go to smoke illegally. With his bass voice, he's a frequent objector, especially if he sees legislation as reflective of an overbearing government diminishing person freedom. He doesn't see the virtual eye-rolling from members of both parties when he jumps to his feet to debate a bill.

Allred's contention that it was nothing more than a grandfatherly kiss bestowed upon a family friend misses a key point: Many families sent their sons and daughters to Raleigh for a week to be pages, but they don't expect them to be embarrassed or hugged or kissed or made a spectacle of on the House or Senate floor, or anywhere else in Raleigh, by a legislator. A handshake will do just fine, thank you.

Any many parents remember the case of Ken Miller, another legislator from Alamance County who was accused of kissing the hand -- or slobbering on the hand -- of a page. Miller, also a Republican, was the object of an inquiry by the House Ethics Committee in 1996 before he was formally censured by the full House in public session. The ethics committee chair that session was Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie. She said that Allred's hug of the page on April 27 was the closest thing she had ever seen to sexual battery, according to Samuels' report.

Samuels' report on what happened that night now goes to the Legislative Ethics Commission for its consideration. It's not Allred's first experience with ethics panels. When he was in the state Senate in the early 1980s, the legislative ethics committee looked into whether Allred violated the legislative code of ethics. He had written 1,100 physicians on his pharmaceutical company's stationery seeking their input on bills in a committee he served on. He asked the doctors to remember his company and its sales agents when they came calling.

The ethics committee ruled his actions "could be construed as a violation" of the ethics law and directed Allred to send an apology for his actions to each doctor he had written. At the time, Allred said the ethics panel was making a mountain out of a molehill.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Give me a break. The Charlotte Observer does more to ruin our government with your haphazard reporting than this guy could do in a hundred years. Get a life, and investigate real criminals. You guys sure are slow on the draw for real news, but pounce on little garbage like this like flies on day old dung.

No wonder you all will be out of a job soon. Bye bye McClatchy!

Anonymous said...

They are and have investigated real criminals. Further McClatchy Newspapers has investigated the criminal Bush administration where far more robust news organizations were too timid and frightened by the monstrous Dick Cheney. So who's the day old dung?

Anonymous said...

Yes, the research on this issue has been very, very shallow.

For example, according to the Sergeant-at-arms report, Rep. Allred admitted to drinking one "chelada" that evening before the session.

A 'chelada' is a cocktail of beer, tomato juice and clam juice.

No report seen so far has indicated whether this tastes good or not.

MichaelProcton said...

Jesus Christ...since when is it the job of a newspaper writer to decide for a teenage girl when she should be embarrassed? She didn't mind; why should YOU?

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