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Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the Bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement, left, questions a witness during the second day of a public evidentiary hearing on the 9th Congressional District voting irregularities investigation Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at the North Carolina State Bar in Raleigh.

CJ reports: Strach out, Brinson Bell in at elections board in what GOP calls partisan move

Dan Way reports for Carolina Journal:

The State Board of Elections ousted Executive Director Kim Strach Monday, May 13, on a party line vote, naming Karen Brinson Bell of Charleston, South Carolina, to replace Strach effective June 1.

Strach served six of her 19 years with the state board as executive director, having built a reputation as an intrepid investigator on some of North Carolina’s highest profile election corruption cases. On her watch, elections board investigations led to criminal referrals and later convictions of former Gov. Mike Easley, state Agriculture Commissioner Meg Scott Phipps, state House Speaker Jim Black, and state Sen. Fletcher Hartsell, among others.

Backlash and fallout were swift.

“Within an hour of the board’s outrageous decision, the agency’s Chief General Counsel Josh Lawson resigned,” Republican state board member Ken Raymond told Carolina Journal in a written statement.

Raymond and fellow Republican David Black opposed the move. Black blamed outside political pressure for canning Strach, who was respected statewide by members of both political parties and by staff at the 70-employee agency.

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