RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - State Senator R.C. Soles says he was aware some legislation he recently proposed could put more money in the pocket of long-time friend Rex Gore, the current but outgoing District Attorney for Columbus, Bladen and Brunswick Counties. However, Soles, who will end his reign as the state's longest serving lawmaker at the end of this year, contends he did not propose legislation only to help Gore.
"If it helps Rex, I think he deserves it. He's been a good DA, he's worked hard and if it will help him and doesn't cost the bank a pile of money, I think it would not be bad," State Senator R.C. Soles said Friday from his office in Tabor City.
This week, Soles proposed two bills that could directly impact his friend Gore and the way criminal cases are prosecuted in Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus Counties.
The first piece of legislation would split the District 13 D.A. position in to two posts, with an expenditure of $248,164 to get the job done. The proposed legislation would have an effect on this year's race between Jon David (R) and Harold "Butch" Pope (D).
I was aware that the retirement bill could impact or could possibly impact Rex Gore, but it was not drafted just for him.
Soles bill calls for a District 13A making up Bladen and Columbus Counties and District 13B, which would include Brunswick County only.
The second piece of legislation would lower the state minimum age to receive a pension for those with at least twenty years of service to 62.
Friday, Senator Soles told WECT News that since the judges districts have been split between Columbus/Bladen and Brunswick Counties for some time, it's only logical to do the same with the district attorney position. Soles says he's proposing the idea in this session in order to gauge interest and see if it's fair for the state. Soles says if it costs too much or if there's a lot of opposition, he'll pull the plan.
The two candidates in this year's District Attorney race are Harold "Butch" Pope (D) and Jon David (R).
Pope lives in Columbus County. If he wins the general election, according to Soles' bill, he would serve District 13A. Governor Perdue would have to appoint a new district attorney for 13B.
David lives in Brunswick County. Should he win in November, Soles bill would have him serving 13B with the governor appointing someone for the other district.
"There are three great counties that are part of the 13th Judicial District," said David. "I am currently a candidate for the whole district. I don't plan on changing my campaign strategy until I hear differently. I don't deal in hypotheticals."
Pope beat long time District Attorney Gore earlier this month in the Democratic primary. Gore is friends with Soles and even recused himself from a criminal investigation last year involving Soles. Theoretically, under the proposed legislation, Gore could be appointed by Governor Perdue should David win the election in November. Gore lives in Columbus County and would be a potential applicant under the way the legislation is currently written.
Gore also has more than twenty years service in office and just recently turned 62.
"I was aware that the retirement bill could impact or could possibly impact Rex Gore, but it was not drafted just for him," Soles said. "If it helps Rex, I think he deserves it. He's been a good DA. He's worked hard and if it will help him and doesn't cost the bank a pile of money, I think it would not be bad."
Thom Goolsby, the Republican candidate for State Senate in New Hanover County, said the move by Soles looks political.
"I have heard of no need for it at all," Thom Goolsby told WECT.com. "It seems to me to be a total political move."
Senator Soles chose not to run for re-election this year. He spoke exclusively to WECT.com about this plan Friday afternoon.
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