CBS News recently reported that a campaign aide to Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) had been indicted on charges of voter fraud. The aide, Aaron Lay, is alleged to have “illegally cast his ballot in two 2004 congressional primary runoffs in which McHenry was a candidate.” McHenry barely won the primary campaign, in which Lay served as a political director, by a margin of just 86 votes.
Since news of the indictment broke, McHenry and his supporters have attempted to spin the charges, claiming they are the work of a “politically motivated” district attorney on a partisan witch-hunt:
“It’s unfortunate that political opponents chose to target this young man in order to attack me.” – Rep. Patrick McHenry [Link]
“It’s shameful that District Attorney Locke Bell is trying to destroy his life for political purposes. I continue to support Congressman McHenry.” – Cleveland County Republican Party Chairman Wayne King [Link]
“This is the culmination of a three-year smear campaign against Congressman McHenry…This case is much like the Duke Lacrosse case in that a politically motivated district attorney sought an indictment against a young man.” – McHenry spokesman Jason Deans [Link]
McHenry’s attempt to spin the story as a “politically motivated” district attorney on “a three-year smear campaign” is difficult to believe.
First of all, the district attorney, Locke Bell, a Republican, is a political supporter of McHenry’s. He told the Charlotte Observer today that he had contributed money to and helped host a fundraiser for the congressman.
Also, Bell couldn’t have possibly participated in “a three-year smear campaign” against Lay and McHenry, as he only “inherited” the case recently when he became district attorney in January.
So, Gaston County District Attorney Locke Bell is actually a recently elected supporter of McHenry, not a long-time political opponent on a three-year quest to “attack” and “destroy” him. McHenry’s attacks are befitting of the man who has been called the “next Tom DeLay.”