Woolard reopens case against Butterfield

Published 12:28 pm Thursday, August 26, 2010

Staff Writer

Faced with no fundraising advantage, little name recognition and zero legislative record, Republican Ashley Woolard continues to wield the main weapon he has against U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-N.C., of Wilson.
Last week, Woolard, a Washington resident running against Butterfield in the 1st Congressional District, released an open letter assailing his incumbent opponent for failing to return a $4,000 campaign contribution.
The money in question was awarded to Butterfield’s campaign by a political action committee affiliated with troubled U.S. Rep. Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y.
In his latest letter, Woolard, a vice president of his family’s insurance business, followed up on an earlier call he issued late last month in a series of campaign appearances.
Woolard got a lot of play from area media for his press conferences around the district at the end of July, when he first demanded Butterfield return the “bribe” from Rangel.
And on Aug. 20 the Republican sought to renew focus on Butterfield’s service on the House ethics committee, which reportedly will try Rangel on ethics charges next month.
“I will continue to hold GK Butterfield accountable for each vote he has made to the destruction of our country, region and families,” Woolard wrote. “In addition, until he decides he works for the citizens of District 1, not the (Nancy) Pelosis and Rangels of the world, he will be held accountable for the Rangel bribe and I will continue to ask for him to recuse (himself) from this trial.”
Woolard’s push for recognition of the issues he’s raised has won the attention of some high-ranking GOP officials, including U.S. Rep. Walter B. Jones Jr., R-N.C., of Farmville.
“We all have to make our own decisions,” Jones said when asked about the matter in a recent interview.
Members of Congress often don’t know where their campaign contributions are coming from, and mistakes can be made, he observed.
“I would have returned the check,” Jones added, declining to advise Butterfield on the question of what he should do.
In a previous news release, Butterfield noted Rangel’s National Leadership PAC gave his campaign $4,000 before he was assigned to the ethics committee.
“The bulk of the donations — $3,000 — came nearly five years ago during the 2004 election cycle,” the congressman pointed out. “It is common for members of Congress or their leadership PAC to donate funds to assist those aspiring for a Congressional seat.”
Butterfield couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday. A spokesman in his Washington, D.C., congressional office was on vacation and unavailable for comment.
In his latest letter, Woolard, facing an uphill battle against a well-entrenched incumbent, called on his supporters for help.
“Friends I need your help to fight Nancy Pelosi and GK Butterfield,” he wrote. “They are betting you will not help. Prove them wrong.”
The letter directs readers to visit Woolard’s website or mail a personal check to his campaign committee.
At last count, Butterfield had more than $300,000 cash on hand, versus just more than $3,900 cash on hand for Woolard, whose committee also listed $6,000 in debts.
The next quarterly campaign reports for congressional candidates aren’t due until October, according to the Federal Election Commission’s website.