A candidate for Pitt County sheriff, accused of being racist, abandons his campaign.
Farmville Police Lt. Paul McLawhorn released a statement Tuesday saying he's no longer running for sheriff.
His decision follows a 9 On Your Side" investigation into a questionable past. He admitted to sexist comments to our Andrew Ruiz and blamed his son for racists ones made under his online handle.
Social activists demanded he withdraw.
By election law, McLawhorn will still appear on the ballot.
In a statement he says, “After much thought, prayer, and deliberation, I am announcing that I am no longer to be considered a candidate for the office of Sheriff of Pitt County in the May 2014 primary election. I have never before aspired to run for public office, and the emotional, mental, and physical toll of running for an elected office is staggering, on both the candidate and their family. I have spoken with Sheriff Elks and advised him of my plans to no longer be considered a candidate. I have known Sheriff Elks for many years and always considered him a friend, and still do. We have no ill will toward one another. At this point, by election law, I cannot have my name removed from the ballot. However, I WILL NOT be campaigning from this point forward, and ask that you DO NOT vote for me in the election. I ask that the people who supported me in this endeavor now put your support behind Sheriff Elks, as I will be doing from this point forward. As the election draws nearer, I will be reminding you again that I am not to be considered as a candidate for this office, and please do not cast your vote for me. I have no desire to serve in this position. I also ask that you respect my decision, and my family’s privacy, during this time."
We'll have more details as they become available.
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Paul McLawhorn, a candidate running for Pitt County Sheriff says he will not withdraw his name from the race. On Thursday, activist said he should be removed from consideration after McLawhorn admitted to a questionable past.
McLawhorn release this statement on his campaign's Facebook page: "I wanted to take a moment to let everyone know that I WILL NOT be dropping out of the Sheriff's race. As mentioned in the beginning of my campaign I will continue to keep my campaign as professional as possible and not run a smear campaign or try to belittle Neil. I am running on issues and concerns that continue to be brought to my attention. Whenever Sheriff Elks is ready, I will be more than happy to debate him on those concerns. Again thank you for your continued support and for the opportunity to become your Sheriff."
We asked his opponent, Sheriff Neil Elks, to comment on McLawhorn's past and he declined our request.
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Racist and sexist are two words social activists are using to describe a candidate running for Pitt County Sheriff. A 9 on your side investigation uncovers questionable remarks made by Paul McLawhorn---a Farmville Police lieutenant running for sheriff.
"It’s outrageous, inexcusable. It's terrible,” Keith Cooper said about comments linked to Lt. McLawhorn's internet alias ‘bignbadun’.
On May 16, 2010, in a forum about blacks in Johnson County, Kentucky, ‘bignbadun’ asks, "Have any blacks moved in the county since 1985? I used to live there and there weren't any...where I live now is full of lazy, worthless thugs.”
In November 29, 2009, when asked if he was having a mid-life crisis, McLawhorn said, “Naw the mid life crisis was 9 years ago at age 39-40 when I was doing the 27 year old, drinking and raising hell every weekend and riding the Harley. Of course, then I had to come crawling back home when i came to my senses.”
“Those comments are degrading and condescending to women. Anyone who does that ought to be held accountable and you certainly shouldn't be elected to the position of Sheriff.” Cooper is asking McLawhorn to remove himself from the race. He says that these comments along with other findings like playing video games at work and posting questionable photos are grounds for disqualifying a candidate.
Andrew Ruiz went straight to the source---sitting down one on one with McLawhorn.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I am as far from racist as you can get. I saw this post and there were some link to porn websites. My son contacted me and he had used my online gaming game on a lot of occasions,” McLawhorn said.
“So you're saying that what happened in this specific post not the other ones was your son?” Andrew Ruiz asked.
McLawhorn replied, “Yes, he has admitted to it.” McLawhorn explained that he and his son disagreed with some of the friendships his son had and as a retaliatory act, posted the stated comments under his gamer ID. McLawhorn gave 9 On Your Side a letter, he says his son wrote, admitting to the comments. However we have not confirmed the validity of the letter as it was not signed.
Cooper responded to McLawhorn’s response, “I'm not surprised he would say that. I would not blame something of this nature on my son because that would be so disrespectful to my son to be so accusatory when I should be man enough to accept responsibility for my own actions.”
Another concern is McLawhorn's history of hires at the Farmville Police department. In a public records request, we found there are 21 employees (16 white male officers, 2 white male dispatchers, 2 white female dispatchers, and 1 female receptionist.) There are no black people in the department.
McLawhorn says he is involved in the hiring process so we asked him about our findings. His response, “the chief has the ultimate say on who we hire. We have interviewed and done backgrounds on several black applicants in the last few processes they just didn't live up to the standards.”
Mclawhorn admits to the comments he made about his wife---- the affair---- playing games at work and even said he wrote worthless checks as a young man and pled guilty. McLawhorn told Facebook supporters if you look hard enough, everyone has skeletons in their closets, but that is not the approach i want to take in my campaign.