GOP men withhold judgment of Privette
By Hugh Fisher
For the Salisbury Post
CONCORD ó The monthly meeting of the Cabarrus County GOP Men’s Club, held last night on Troutman’s Barbecue on U.S. 601, took place with barely a mention of the local Republican Party stalwart who was absent from its ranks.
Coy Privette, member of the Cabarrus County Board of Commissioners and former N.C. House member, was arrested July 19 and charged with six counts of aiding and abetting prostitution in alleged encounters with Tiffany Denise Summers of Salisbury.
Privette, the Cabarrus GOP Men’s Club’s vice-president in charge of programs, did not attend Thursday’s meeting.
In response to questions regarding Privette, club president Audy Dover distributed a copy of the statement released Wednesday by Cabarrus Republican Party chair Christopher McCartan.
McCartan’s statement calls Privette “one of the defining faces of local politics for decades,” yet says that the party “will deal with the situation accordingly” if the charges against Privette are proven to be true.
“That’s about all we’ll say on that this evening,” Dover said.
Indeed, after members finished supper, the club’s featured speaker took the floor without any further mention of the matter.
Nathan Tabor, author of “The Beast on the East River” ó a book about the United Nations and its supposed attempts to form an autocratic one-world government ó spoke for about 40 minutes, followed by a question and answer session.
The few members who would comment about Privette for the record were somber and reserved. Justin Thibault, club treasurer, echoed McCartan’s position.
“I believe that we’re in line with the local party,” Thibault said. “The party at large has reacted very well. I feel proud to stand behind that statement, personally. We believe in the process.”
Club member Gary Love of Concord said he felt that Privette had been “a lightning rod” for criticism and that he felt sorry for the commissioner’s family.
“I wish him (Privette) and his family the best,” said Love. “I have to be fair to his family. You don’t have to agree or disagree with someone to sympathize with their position.”
Norman Freeze of Concord joined the club only recently; Thursday’s meeting was just his second. Still, he expressed faith in the due process of law.
“My opinion is very simple. If the court finds him guilty, then apply the law,” Freeze said. “If he’s not guilty, great.”
Also absent from the meeting was past GOP Men’s Club president and local activist Harold Smith of Kannapolis.
Smith has been an outspoken supporter of Privette and has generally favored the 74-year-old former minister’s opinions in matters before the Cabarrus commissioners.
Most recently, Smith joined Privette in opposing Cabarrus County’s participation in the tax-increment financing partnership with Kannapolis.
Wednesday, six days after Privette was arrested, Smith announced that he will shut down his Web site GoHaroldSmith.com in September and withdraw from local politics.
“I no longer desire to run for public office. I do not plan to publish public positions on political issues,” Smith said on his site. “I envision an exciting and positive future.”
The allegations against Privette are not mentioned in the statement. Smith cites personal reasons and recent reflection as his reasons for making those decisions. Smith could not immediately be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, Justin Thibault ń who operates the Web site and blog CabarrusCheapSeats.com and who has disagreed with Privette’s positions there at times in the past ń showed no animosity toward the embattled commissioner.
“Each individual might have different feelings, but overall there is a strong feeling of sympathy,” Thibault said. “I imagine there are a lot of prayers heading Mr. Privette’s way.”