Update: Attorney's input on BOE questioned
by Kellen Short
County Attorney Stacy "Four" Eggers had direct influence on several polarizing Board of Elections resolutions proposed by his brother, Chairman Luke Eggers, new information confirms.
The Winston-Salem Journal reported Sunday that "digital thumbprints" on the documents showed that several of the resolutions had been crafted on Four Eggers' law office computer. Word processors assign an "author" for each document and store that information in the document properties.
The article raised the question of whether a person can act as an impartial legal advisor to the Board of Elections while simultaneously assisting with its policies.
Four Eggers said Monday he helped his brother with the resolutions as a private citizen at no cost to the county.
He added it would be wise for new board members to talk to their predecessors for information, advice and institutional memory. Former Chairwoman Stella Anderson has assisted current member Kathleen Campbell on numerous issues, he noted.
Four Eggers also said that he served as both county attorney and Board of Elections member from December 2010 to August 2013 without any problems.
"The fact that I'm not on the board but am volunteering my past experience to the current board members at no cost to the county is -- it's certainly not something that would be shocking or novel," Four Eggers said.
Luke Eggers acknowledged Monday his brother's assistance in creating the policies but emphasized that the ideas were his own.
"All of these resolutions that have come out, these have been my thoughts. It's stuff I've been wanting to do," Luke Eggers said.
He added sarcastically, "If I get my brother's help, I'm sorry, I guess. I didn't know I wasn't supposed to speak to my brother."
Luke Eggers further described his actions as dictation and said it "was definitely my work," but that he naturally wanted to check his facts with someone who had experience and who he trusted.
He said his brother helped mostly with the two more recent resolutions: One withdrawing a resolution combining three Boone precincts and another to set the Boone 2 polling place at Legends.
He said he was at the beach when he decided he wanted to draft the resolution withdrawing the Boone precinct combination.
"Four is somebody I trust, so I called him and said, 'Hey, this is what I'd like to do. Can you help me with this?'" Luke Eggers said. " ... While we're at it, we might as well write one for Boone 2 precinct as well."
Critics of the Board of Election's recent decisions have questioned Four Eggers' role since the contentious meeting Aug. 12.
Campbell, the lone Democrat on the board, asked in that meeting whether Four Eggers had assisted in putting together the document. Luke Eggers did not deny that he had, saying he sought assistance from anyone as needed.
When someone later shouted from the crowd, "Who wrote this?" Campbell retorted, "His brother."
Campbell said Tuesday that she now had confirmation of her previous beliefs.
"Of course, we all thought he was doing this all along, but there wasn't any proof of it," she said. " ... I thought since the beginning that the way this all has run by Republicans has been fairly reprehensible because they're just coming in and trying to bully their way forward."
Campbell said she was outraged by the "poisonous" actions.
"If Luke were in there and he were asking him once in a while for advice, I could see that," she said. "But to have him literally writing the resolutions and the agendas?"
Campbell said Four Eggers also has declined to advice her on board issues when she inquired individually. County policy requires legal questions to come from the entire board, rather than one individual member, to control costs, he wrote in an Aug. 28 letter responding to her questions.
She said she saw the current situation in a similar way. If Four Eggers cannot advise her on board matters, why can he advise another board member, she said.
Four Eggers served on the Board of Elections for eight years prior to this year. His name was submitted by the local and state party this summer for consideration, but the State Board of Elections did not appoint him.
State elections board Chairman Josh Howard told the Winston-Salem Journal that he didn't think Four Eggers could perform the elections board duties while serving as county attorney.
"I don't think he can do both jobs because the county attorney often has to advise the county board of elections," Howard was quoted as saying.
A representative for Howard, the state board chairman, said Tuesday he was tied
up and declined to comment.
Don Wright, general counsel for the state board, would not comment on the issue but said he did not believe any Watauga County issues were on the agenda for the next board meeting.
"I'm unaware of the state board meeting anymore on issues related to Watauga," he said.
Luke Eggers said he had no idea whether the state Board of Elections would become involved and said his primary focus now is on the upcoming municipal elections.
He expressed frustration at the criticism directed toward the actions of him and his brother, who he described as upstanding, honest and truthful. Four Eggers echoed his comments, characterizing the controversy as people simply grasping to find something to argue about.
At the end of the day, policy decisions fall to the Board of Elections members themselves, Four Eggers said.
"It's ultimately their decision, and they're the ones who fill in that role," he said. "As much as folks might want to think that Luke is my clone, he certainly is not."