Who’s been buttering Barefoot’s bread?

When Chad Barefoot quit his day job as Skip Stam’s assistant to run for a custom-made State Senate seat, he landed on his feet with a job at the political consulting firm of connected Republican Frank Williams. Campaign finance records show that about that time Stam’s campaign committee started paying a regular fee of $4,333.33 for “campaign consulting” to Williams’ firm Pioneer Strategies spaced about every month until Barefoot was elected. Beginning January 2012 there were 10 payments of $4,333.22 and one final payment of $8,666.66 on 10/17/12 for a total of $51,999.99. Barefoot’s campaign had the help of a lot of direct and indirect money, as thoroughly detailed by the Independent weekly, and he was elected that November.

Campaign finance records don’t show that the veteran politician Stam had ever hired Pioneer Strategies before 2012, or after, or that he ever paid such sums for “campaign consulting”. The closest that Stam’s records show is a one-time $4,200 in 2006 to JN Dollar for “mail service” and several payments totaling about $10,000 in 2000 to JN Dollar for “radio ads”. In addition there was one 2012 payment $1,500 to Pioneer Strategies for “website redesign”. You’d have thought that $52,000 for “campaign consulting” might include a website design, especially as Skip Stam is more likely to be giving campaign advice than receiving it. The coincidence of payments may not amount to a smoking gun, but there’s enough bad optics to raise eyebrows more than shot of botox could.

After the 2012 election Barefoot hopped from one lily pad to another. He landed another job with the business of some major donors. Executives from Cary Reconstruction, also known as CRC, gave over $10,000 to Barefoot’s campaign in 2012. They have given more modest sums to Stam. In January 2013 Barefoot was on their payroll as a “Regional Sales Director”, according to Barefoot’s biographical information. CRC specializes in construction damage restoration for insurance companies.

In 2012 Frank Williams running for Brunswick County Commissioner had a fundraiser that August at Raleigh’s Caffe Luna. Donors included Barefoot, Kieran Shanahan, Francis DeLuca, Les Merritt, and Fred Smith and some two dozen other attendees including Tom Fetzer. According to Brunswick County records Williams’ biggest contributor that cycle was conservative donor Robert Luddy giving a total of $6,000. Luddy, like Stam, had given the cycle maximum of $8,000 to Barefoot’s concurrent campaign. In June of this year Luddy and his wife gave a combined $10,000 to Barefoot’s re-election campaign.

Barefoot’s primary asset appears to be his malleability, his ability to adopt and promote the messages of his conservative mentors. An email exchange from 2011 posted online to a Knights of Columbus listserv shows coordination between anti-abortion groups and Barefoot’s role in efforts to override then Governor Perdue’s veto of the “Women’s Right to Know Act” which restricted access to abortion. The email from Barefoot’s legislative account was addressed to Republican and anti-abortion activists. It included profiles of two House Members to be targeted for the override vote, Jim Crawford and Winkie Wilkins. The profiles included names of their spouse and children, names of their churches and pastors, including minister’s contact information so maximum pressure could be brought to bear. Crawford did give them the vote they needed to override Perdue’s veto.

Today a different Crawford, Sarah Crawford, emerges to put an end to Barefoot’s free ride and reign of error in Senate District 18. November 4th he may be toast, buttered or not.

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