Faced with lawsuit threat, Pittenger retracts statement on Dan Bishop

Former congressman retracts statement in connection with District 9 investigation

RALEIGH, N.C. — An endorsement, a threatened lawsuit, and a retraction.

It was a wild couple of hours and a war of words between the former 9th District congressman and a man seeking to replace him.

Former Rep. Robert Pittenger is retracting statements he made about state Sen. Dan Bishop.

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It started when Pittenger emailed his supporters endorsing former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour for his seat.

In the email, Pittenger bashed Bishop, accusing him of being a senior advisor for Mark Harris and having knowledge of McCrae Dowless' activities.

Harris recently said he will not run in the new U.S. House District 9 race amid a monumental election fraud investigation. Dowless is a convicted felon, who is now is facing obstruction of justice, conspiracy and possession of an absentee ballot charges.

In response to the email, Bishop threatened Pittenger with a lawsuit.

"You are entitled to endorse a candidate for the seat you lost and to hold and express opinions, even if born of that bitterness," Bishop wrote to Pittenger in an email. "You cannot publish lies about me."

Bishop told Pittenger in an email Tuesday that he had 30 minutes to retract his statements or be sued for libel.

"Your malicious publication of these falsehoods is severely damaging to my reputation," Bishop wrote.

A short time later, Pittenger emailed Channel 9 and other media outlets a retraction.

"The statements regarding Dan Bishop were false," Pittenger wrote.

On Twitter, former Harris campaign manager Jason Williams said Bishop had no involvement with the Harris campaign beyond endorsing him over Pittenger.

"He never advised on strategy or, to my knowledge, even know of the existence of McCrae Dowless," Williams tweeted.

Following Pittenger's retraction, Bishop tweeted, "enough lies."

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