UPDATED: The Alamance County sheriff who is described as a racist in a new federal investigative report coordinated security at Pat McCrory's campaign rally Tuesday but apparently did not take part in the event.
Sheriff Terry Johnson endorsed the Republican's gubernatorial campaign earlier this year. Now he is the subject of an ongoing battle with the U.S. Department of Justice after the agency conducted a two year investigation that determined the sheriff and his deputies discriminated against Latinos, stopping and detaining them, without probable cause in order to boost deportations.
McCrory's campaign refused Tuesday to renounce Johnson. But the campaign did acknowledge that Johnson, a Republican, coordinated security at its Burlington rally featuring Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker. A McCrory spokesman made clear that Johnson did not participate in the event.
Johnson's connection to the McCrory campaign comes after a controversy involving another sheriff who appeared in a McCrory TV ad that African-American leaders are asking the candidate to remove from the air.
Democratic state Sen. Floyd McKissick, the leader of the Legislative Black Caucus, asked McCrory in a letter to take down the ad saying Gay's appearance "triggers a racial cue that has no place in this campaign."
McCrory's campaign responded to McKissick's complaint by saying the ad doesn't touch any racial tones, and stood behind the ad, calling it "positive." A spokesman suggested the letter from McKissick was just part of the Perdue-Dalton attack machine. (Go here to judge the ad for yourself.
On Tuesday, Dalton's campaign responded itself, issuing a statement from Melvin "Skip" Alston, the Guilford County Commission chairman and former president of the N.C. NAACP. He called McCrory's defense of the ad "a pattern of shameful campaign tactics meant to divide North Carolina."
"First McCrory hired Fred Davis, the Hollywood-based ad maker who came under fire for planning a racially inflammatory ad campaign against the President. Then, he defended Mitt Romney’s lack of concern for almost half of Americans. Now McCrory is defending a top surrogate notorious for stoking racial tensions and bitterly blaming his professional failures on African Americans," Alston said in a statement release by Democratic rival Walter Dalton's campaign.
"Subtle racism is still racism. And race-baiting disguised as a political vision cannot be tolerated," Alston added.
McCrory spokesman Brian Nick responded to the Dalton campaign statement with this: "Today Walter Dalton officially hit the panic button and his desperation reached unprecedented levels. In an act of stunning hypocrisy, the Dalton campaign released a negative and false television ad while at the same time coordinating partisan surrogates to attack an actual positive ad. Badly down in the polls and desperate, it's sad and unfortunate that Dalton is willing to say and do anything in an attempt to score cheap political points."
Editor's note: This post was updated to add more response from McCrory's team and include a hyperlink of the ad.