Commentary

Today’s “must read” – ECU chancellor-elect resigned Georgia Senate leadership position in aftermath of weird email scandal

ECU_StatonIf you haven’t already, be sure to check out reporter Billy Ball’s rather remarkable story about the new chancellor-elect at East Carolina University, former Georgia politician, Cecil Staton: “ECU chancellor-elect brings complicated, political past to new role.”

Not only was Staton at one time a champion of controversial voter ID laws, he also resigned from his state Senate leadership position after getting caught up in a bizarre email scandal.

Here’s an excerpt:

“And, strangely, Staton was embroiled in a puzzling email scandal during a state GOP flap in 2011 that spurred his temporary ouster as majority whip, a position that made him among the most powerful Republicans in the state.

The scandal, according to media reports and Georgia political observers who spoke to Policy Watch, centered around allegations that Staton used an anonymous email address and a fake name to bombard lawmakers and pundits with attacks on his political rival, Republican Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

After reports surfaced that the emails’ purported author, an unknown woman named “Beth Merkleson,” could not be tracked down, one GOP party activist publicly claimed he had connected Internet activity from both Merkleson and Staton’s email accounts to the same IP address. The activist also claimed that, during one email exchange with Merkleson, the author accidentally signed off as Staton once.

Days later, Staton denied the accusations but reportedly stepped down from his top party position for the remainder of the legislative session, claiming he did not want to be a “distraction,” even as critics lampooned him online (here’s a now-defunct site, courtesy of an Internet archives page, that includes a photoshopped “missing” poster for Merkleson with Staton’s face).

All of this from a newly-appointed, relatively unknown figure in North Carolina expected to assume a high-paying, nonpartisan position at one of the state’s largest institutions of higher education.”

Click here to read the entire story.

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