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What They’re Reading: Thom Tillis Rewrites History

GREENSBORO – Thom Tillis released an ad yesterday attempting to rewrite history from when he gave taxpayer-funded golden parachutes to two staffers who resigned after it was revealed they were having extramarital affairs with lobbyists. Amid the 2012 scandal, Tillis stated that he “accepts the resignations” of both staffers and explicitly defended his decision to dole out almost $20,000 worth of severance packages.

Yet, in his new ad, Tillis attempts to rewrite history and states that he “fired” both staffers, despite multiple reports stating that both staff members resigned.  And in responding to the charges, his own campaign spokesman won’t use the word “fired” to defend the ad or Tillis’ actions. 

Here’s what people are reading today about Thom Tillis’ wildly inaccurate claim:

Raleigh News & Observer:

In the new 30-second spot, the Tillis claims he “fired the staffers” – a point contradicted by his own language at the time of the controversy in 2012, when Tillis allowed them to resign and receive the pay outs. He also blames Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada for the attacks. The super PAC is run by former Reid aides…The departure of the two staffers – one was his chief of staff with whom Tillis shared a Raleigh apartment and the other a policy adviser – were announced as resignation. In a statement at the time, Tillis said Chief of Staff Charles Thomas “verbally offered his resignation … I have accepted his resignation.” The two staffers were given a total severance of $19,333…

Republican strategist Carter Wrenn said the accusations could amount to a “game changer” in the Republican primary. He suggested Tillis blaming Democrats for meddling won’t be enough to counter the charges.

“He might have said, ‘I made a mistake.’ But didn’t,” Wrenn wrote on the blog, Talking About Politics. “Instead he announced to the press, ‘Harry Reid hit the panic button.’ And blasted Reid for meddling in the Republican Primary. … But it won’t cut the mustard.”

Wall Street Journal:

The Tillis campaign released an ad on Thursday, calling Democrats’ claims “false” and saying Mr. Tillis had fired the staffers. In 2012, Mr. Tillis told reporters that he had accepted their resignations, according to local news outlet WRAL.com.

Huffington Post:

Senate candidate and North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R) responded Thursday to Democratic attacks, saying he had fired staffers who had affairs with lobbyists…Tillis’ former chief of staff and roommate, Charles Thomas, as well as the speaker’s former policy adviser, Amy Hobbs, resigned in 2012 after their relationships with lobbyists were revealed…

“I recognized that their jobs and careers were forever affected by their choices and that serious family obligations still existed for each of them,” Tillis told The News & Observer in 2012. “I stand by my decision to accept their resignation while recognizing the difficult transition period they are now entering.”

WRAL:

Democrats responded to Tillis’ ad by calling it misleading. Tillis, they said, didn’t fire the staffers in question…WRAL News reported at the time that Charles Thomas, Tillis’ chief of staff, “had resigned” and that policy adviser Amy Hobbs had been asked to resign. Asked later about severance pay given to the pair, Tillis said, “There was about two weeks’ notice you would normally give in a resignation. I told them they would need to sever on the day they provided it.” At the time, Tillis said the severance pay was fair.

Associated Press:

In Tillis’ ad, the narrator says Hagan’s assertions about the personnel matter are false and that “Tillis fired the staffers” who later received the severance. However, at the time of their termination, the two employees – Charles Thomas and Amy Hobbs - said they were resigning. Tillis also said in a 2012 release that he “accepted the resignation” of Thomas.Tillis campaign spokesman Jordan Shaw defended the firing language in the ad, saying “the action initiated by Speaker Tillis resulted in the termination of their employment.”

Politico Morning Score:

Are you better off now than you were a week ago?NO: (1) North Carolina Senate candidate Thom Tillis, who got a taste this week of what Democrats will use against him in the general election…

Roll Call:

If the Tillis campaign didn’t think the ad had the potential to do damage, it is unlikely it would have responded so quickly. But it’s interesting that the ad devotes just a few seconds specifically responding to the charge and quickly pivots to Reid and national Democrats.

Politico:

It says Harry Reid is “meddling in our primary to get a weak opponent for Kay Hagan” and that “Tillis fired the staffers,” though he said at the time he “accepted their resignations.”