NC State Board of Elections Chairman resigns amid controversy

RALEIGH, N.C. — The chairman of North Carolina's elections board has resigned following complaints about comments he's made online criticizing President Donald Trump.

Channel 9 confirmed Governor Roy Cooper accepted the resignation of the Chairman for the State Board of Elections Andy Penry.

Penry resigned Saturday from the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. The Democrat said he was leaving the board because he did not want to undermine an ongoing probe of potential wrongdoing in the state's 9th Congressional District race between Mark Harris and Dan McCready. The board is investigating alleged fraudulent activity related to mail-in absentee ballots and could order a new election.

The board voted on Friday to continue investigating.

[READ MORE: NC Board of Elections votes to hold hearing on US House District 9 election]

North Carolina GOP leaders said they didn't think Penry could lead the investigation fairly, pointing to his Twitter account.

The state Republican party is now demanding Gov. Roy Cooper step in and appoint a new chair.

“This is on the governor now to clean this mess up,” said NCGOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse.  “The governor must immediately appoint somebody that both sides of the aisle can have utter confidence in.”

Wake County GOP Chairman Charles Hellwig filed a complaint Wednesday and provided images of what appear to be tweets from Penry's account this year criticizing Trump and a proposed constitutional amendment. Hellwig cited state law prohibiting board members from publicly opposing candidates and referendums.

One example in the complaint alleges Penry responded to a Tweet about President Donald Trump, calling him a crazy man.

“If one of the Republican members of the Wake County Board of Elections said or did anything like former chairman Penry did, I would step in and take action,” Hellwig said.

[RELATED: Possible absentee 'irregularities' examined in 9th Congressional District race]

Penry's resignation was first reported by The Washington Post.

“They refuse to discuss this race in public or with the media, doing all their work behind closed session,” Woodhouse said. “I want to know what they're hiding, and are they hiding that they have nothing.”

A spokesperson for Gov. Roy Cooper’s office released this statement:

"The governor has accepted Mr. Penry's resignation and appreciates his service to our state."

Later this month, the state board of elections will hold an evidentiary hearing into the potential voter fraud.

Channel 9 has reported on the sworn affidavits from voters who claim someone illegally collected their absentee ballots.

On Friday, Channel 9 reporter Joe Bruno went to the center of the investigation in Bladen County and spoke to some of those people who say their ballots were collected.

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