RALEIGH — Rep. Darren Jackson, D-Wake, wants Republican leaders to take a polygraph. He says he’ll pay for it.
Jackson, in a news conference Monday, Sept. 23, says a lie-detector test would prove the veracity of Republican claims about a controversial House vote overriding the governor’s budget veto. Or not.
“There is no path forward for reconciliation so long as the leadership continues to lie,” Jackson said during the news conference.
House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, wasted little time in scheduling his own news conference.
“This isn’t the ‘Maury Povich’ show,” Moore spat back. “I don’t plan to get in the gutter with Representative Jackson.”
Lie-detector tests aren’t admissible in court, Moore said. Democratic members, he said, should be talking about what’s in the budget, as opposed to participating in these sorts of sideshows.
On Sept. 11, House Republicans surprised their Democratic colleagues with the early morning vote. Few House Democrats were present for the 8:30 a.m. session, and they would later claim they were told no votes would be held that morning. Nine House Democrats voted against overriding the veto, while 55 House Republicans voted for it.
Jackson said Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett, told him no votes would be held at 8:30 a.m. Lewis is the House Rules Committee chairman and presided over the afternoon session the day before the vote.
Jackson passed the information on to the House Democratic caucus, letting them know they didn’t have to show up for the morning session. But, Jackson said, House Republicans were secretly maneuvering to ensure their members would be at the 8:30 a.m. session for the veto override.
Rep. Jon Hardister, R-Guilford, sent a text telling Republican members to be there in case House Democrats tried to make a motion about redistricting. Jackson said Rep. Larry Yarborough, R-Granville, showed him the text message. Hardister told the News & Observer it’s routine for him to remind members to be present for session when votes are scheduled.
Jackson also said Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, knew Moore would call for a vote on the veto override and read the motion from his phone during the morning session.
Lewis denies Jackson’s version of events and chalked it up as a misunderstanding. Moore said it wasn’t Republicans’ fault House Democrats failed to show up to work. Moore said he had long promised to take a vote on the budget veto override if the opportunity presented itself.
Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the $24 billion General Fund budget June 28. It then sat on the House calendar as Moore tried to wrangle enough votes to override the veto.
In his news conference, Jackson claimed the Republican leadership is preventing him from getting a copy of security tapes from the Sept. 11 morning session. He says the tapes prove some House Republicans coordinated the veto override.
While Jackson said he was initially granted access to the video, he later received an email from Legislative Police Chief Martin Brock denying his request for a copy. The denial says videos are only released for a criminal or personnel investigation, but Jackson claimed during his news conference that the denial came from Moore.
Moore said he didn’t know about the video request until after Jackson’s news conference. The speaker, during his news conference, told reporters he has directed Brock to allow the media to view the video. Moore said it will show he directed his chief of staff to give Saine a message instructing him make the motion to vote for the override.
Jackson also suggested legal action could be taken against Republican leadership for how the veto override was handled, but he didn’t elaborate.
“Representative Jackson’s threat of a lawsuit demonstrates the Democrats’ continued ‘Sue ‘Til Blue’ efforts for when they don’t receive the outcomes they want,” Lewis said in an emailed statement. “The Democratic minority leader is trying to keep this story relevant by orchestrating a publicity stunt during a slow legislative news week with the goal of revising his previous statements.”
Moore said he was surprised by the timing of Jackson’s news conference and its allegations. The two spoke Saturday at the UNC-Chapel Hill-Appalachian State college football game, Moore said.
“The first I knew that Representative Jackson was going to talk about video and all that stuff today was by coming down here and having a press conference … not even having the courtesy to have a conversation with me about that today after I saw him Saturday.”