May 2, 2022
How many questionable decisions has District Attorney Ted Bell made in his tenure here? It obviously is an answer that will take years to fully discover. The latest is his decision to use public political endorsements of law enforcement officials in radio ads on WCAB, social media, newspapers, and mailers.
Mr. Bell as an attorney and current District Attorney is certainly aware of the Hatch Act. It clearly states that “The Hatch Act, a federal law passed in 1939, limits certain political activities of federal employees, as well as some state, D.C., and local government employees who work in connection with federally funded programs. The law’s purposes are to ensure that federal programs are administered in a nonpartisan fashion, to protect federal employees from political coercion in the workplace, and to ensure that federal employees are advanced based on merit and not based on political affiliation.”
“The Hatch Act restricts the political activity of individuals principally employed by state, District of Columbia, or local executive agencies and who work in connection with programs financed in whole or in part by federal loans or grants. Usually, employment with a state, D.C., or local agency constitutes the principal employment of the employee in question. However, when an employee holds two or more jobs, principal employment is generally deemed to be that job which accounts for the most work time and the most earned income.” (See link here)
Mr. Bell seems to have forgotten that the stated endorsers he has listed all have federal funding sources and therefore are subject to the Hatch Act. (see above) After an extensive search online I was unable to find any stated confirmation of these endorsements. I reached out via email last Thursday April 28th to all the individuals mentioned to receive direct confirmation of their endorsement explaining to them that I was writing an article about it.
No one mentioned above by Mr. Bell has replied to my original email. I then emailed Mr. Bell directly asking if he had written endorsements from these officials. He too did not answer my email but did post within a few hours of my sending it regarding his endorsements on his Ted Bell for DA Facebook page.
“April 29 at 7:00 PM ·
I never want to be misinterpreted or to mislead anyone, so based on a couple of questions I received I want to clarify. As I have always said, I have been unanimously endorsed by the heads of all of our local law enforcement agencies – the Chiefs and Sheriffs. This endorsement is in their personal capacity – obviously, a Town or Police Department cannot endorse someone, and I don’t want someone to misunderstand and think that I am stating that I am endorsed by a Town or Police Department as opposed to an individual.
Thank you for your support,
I then emailed all the supposed endorsers of Mr. Bell and asked for a direct confirmation or denial of the endorsement along with their department’s policy on endorsing partisan politicians. I also asked if their departments directly or indirectly receive federal funding. I did copy Mr. Bell on this email. As of right now I have not heard back from any of them regarding this except Marion PD Chief Allen Lawerence who asked for my article deadline date.
It is very concerning that only one of the “public servants” emailed answered me. These people have sworn to protect and serve the public in their individual communities. How can the general public feel protected if they fear retaliation for not supporting the political candidate that the department Chief or Sheriff has endorsed. This is the entire purpose behind the Hatch Act, to decrease political coercion of any kind.
If you as a citizen are concerned about this you can file a complaint about these officials with U.S. Office of Special Counsel Click on this link “File a Complaint”or click on the green button on the right hand side under the banner on the home page. They will investigate this and have a hearing. This is a link to complaints they have heard (click here)
If you are concerned about Ted Bell’s actions you can also file a complaint with the Attorney General’s office in Raleigh. (see link) If you go to file a complaint be sure to check “received in the mail” if you received an endorsement flyer. Also you can attach the flyer you received or a screen shot of social media. If you need to call Toll-free within North Carolina: 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.
You can also complain to the NC State Bar. Anyone can file a complaint to the Bar Association about any practicing lawyer. For info click here To directly file a complaint you can click this link https://www.ncbar.gov/media/490329/grievance-form.pdf or call (919) 828-4620. Individuals who file grievances in good faith against a North Carolina lawyer are protected by statute from retaliation.
Ted Bell himself has shown by his Facebook post (as seen above) that he knows using official endorsements are out of line but it’s too late to retract it as the mailers and social media ads have all gone out to the public.
It’s one thing for Mr. Bell to personally erroneously represent his endorsements as official statements but to throw these men and their departments “under the bus” (so to speak) for his own political gain seems unconscionable even for him.
Is this the man you want to represent you as District Attorney? One who seemingly conveniently “forgets” major points of law or feels the law does not apply to him when it suits his purpose? One who has no issue with endangering other officials with his actions? This man who stands up publically and says he is the embodiment of “ethical behavior.”
When you consider the length of time it takes to have a case heard by him, the plea deals, the protection of Judge Pool, the admitted alteration of body cam video in a death by officer shooting, his working relationship in the office, and now the questionable endorsement mailer it makes you wonder. It makes us all wonder.
Rutherford and McDowell County both deserve better than this.
Please go vote for integrity, for transparency, for ethical behavior, for legal knowledge, but especially for change. You can make a difference.
Early voting is going on now. Final primary voting date is May 17th. All unaffiliated voters are eligible to vote in the Republican primary.
This article will be updated as new information is received.