A new mailer out from Boz Zellinger’s campaign echoes a charge first made in a mailer last month by the State Employees Association Political Action Committee that Zellinger’s opponent in the Wake County DA Democratic Primary (and current Wake County Clerk of Court), Lorrin Freeman, is tainted by corruption arising out of a scandal involving bondsmen that emerged last year.
Unlike the SEANC mailer, which explicitly used the word “corruption” in reference to the scandal, Zellinger’s flyer says “[t]his isn’t an issue of character or honesty – it’s an issue of management and experience as a prosecutor” and notes that it “took Freeman years to learn about” the scandal and put a stop to it.
Colon Willoughby, who as the recently retired elected District Attorney has been both Freeman and Zellinger’s boss, weighed in on the SEANC mailer last month.
Willoughby told WRAL that Freeman was the one who uncovered the scheme, and he takes issue with SEANC’s criticism.
“The district attorney’s office ought to be one about honesty and integrity. These [SEANC PAC] ads are not honest, and I’m very disappointed,” he said.
Willoughby told Indy Week columnist Bob Geary that SEANC attacks on Freeman are “scurrilous.” Also, “deceptive and dishonest.” He said Zellinger should tell SEANC to stop.
Zellinger told WRAL, “I don’t agree with thinking that [Freeman’s] corrupt or has done anything untoward.”
But the latest mailer from his campaign makes clear that he believes the scandal reflects on Freeman’s competence.
Zellinger’s flyer walks a tight line: After all the computer system that resulted in it taking “Freeman years to learn about this million-dollar crime and put a stop to it,” is the same computer system that allowed DWI Lawyer James Crouch to pass orders to a judge for years for the benefit of his clients without then-District Attorney Colon Willoughby finding out about it. Zellinger assisted in the prosecution of Crouch.
In addition, while Zellinger’s flyer accuses Lorrin Freeman of failing to uncover acts that go back 8 years, Freeman was only Clerk of Court for about 6 1/2 years by the time she reported the matter to Colon Willoughby and the State Bureau of Investigation. Eight years ago she was an assistant attorney general tasked with, among other things, representing the State Highway Patrol.
As Bob Geary wrote earlier this week in his column in the Indy:
“Democrats have a close call to make in the primary election for Wake County District Attorney. Lorrin Freeman, 43, now Wake’s Clerk of Superior Court, would be a solid choice. Most Democratic leaders (Josh Stein, Caroline Sullivan, Charles Meeker) are for Freeman. Boz Zellinger, 32, an assistant district attorney, is an up-and-comer. Former Congressman Brad Miller is in Zellinger’s camp. The INDY recommended Zellinger.”