N.C. sheriff recorded making racist comments re-elected weeks after resigning

Francis Akhalbey November 10, 2022
Image via Columbus County Sheriff's Office

A Columbus County Sheriff, who recently resigned after he was recorded making comments that were deemed racist, has been re-elected to serve another term, The Washington Post reported. 

As previously reported by Face2Face Africa, Sheriff Jody Greene made those comments during a phone call with Captain Jason Soles. The conversation, which happened several years ago, also took place when Soles was serving as the county’s acting sheriff. Soles was appointed to that position as election officials worked to confirm the contested 2018 elections that Greene won.

But it appears the allegations and Greene’s resignation some two weeks ago did not get in the way of him being re-elected. Preliminary results from the State Board of elections on Tuesday showed that Greene, a Republican, had edged over his opponent by over 1,500 votes.

“I am so honored for your vote of confidence in me and the staff at the Sheriff’s Office. I promise we will not let you down, I am the Sheriff for everyone no matter race, color, religion, sex orientation, or national origin,” Greene shared on Facebook on Wednesday.

Greene’s re-election comes after his comments were condemned by the North Carolina Sheriff’s Association as well as advocacy groups. Greene also resigned from the state’s Sheriff’s Association after the audio was circulated.

“The North Carolina Sheriffs’ Association (the Association), representing all 100 sheriffs in our state, is aware of racially-charged comments allegedly made by Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene, that shock the conscience. The comments made on the recording are inflammatory, racially derogatory, insulting, and offensive,” the NCSA said in a statement in the wake of the allegations.

Greene tendered his resignation in late October before a hearing looking into unseating him as sheriff. Greene is said to have made those comments when he was speaking about the African-American workers in his department. And the call reportedly took place after Greene won the sheriff’s seat by a narrow margin. Greene’s opponent at the time, Lewis Hatcher, is the first African-American sheriff in Columbus County.

Following the election, Hatcher filed a lawsuit asking to be restored as sheriff until disputes over the election results were settled, WITN reported. Soles, who was then serving as the county’s acting sheriff, said he began recording the phone calls he was having with Greene after the latter started making racially charged comments. 

“I’m sick of it. I’m sick of these Black bastards. I’m going to clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there,” Greene said in the six and half-minute recording that was obtained by WECT in September.

Soles, who is a Democrat, gave the recording to the news outlet after he announced he was going to contest Greene for the sheriff’s seat in the November 2022 elections, The Washington Post reported. Soles also said he had initially tried to get the local and state departments to look into the issue. But he said “everybody had deaf ears.”

After the circulation of the recordings, District Attorney Jon David asked Greene – in a letter – to “recognize the harm that your statements have caused” and also “make the honorable decision to resign.” But Greene declined to step down, and this ultimately led David to file a petition asking for the Sheriff’s termination, per The Washington Post.

David, at a trial, had also been set to table his case pertaining to the allegations about Greene’s “willful misconduct and maladministration in office.” But the trial shortly ended after Greene’s attorney announced that the sheriff had tendered his resignation.

Hours after the announcement of his resignation, Greene shared a Facebook post announcing he was still contesting in the upcoming sheriff’s elections. He also rendered an apology and said he avoided a trial because “I cannot afford to spend the next week fighting in a courtroom while we are in the middle of an election to preserve our freedom.”

Following his announcement, David released a statement saying he was still going to file another petition to have Greene unseated as sheriff if he wins the election. 

“It is appropriate, and necessary, to file a petition based on the current allegations, as well as any new allegations that may come to light,” David said.

Despite his re-election, Greene is still under investigation for obstruction of justice. The State Bureau of Investigation is looking into those allegations.

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