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North Carolina AG might be indicted and charged for abuse of power

A local North Carolina grand jury on Monday in Raleigh, NC considered possible criminal charges against state Attorney General Josh Stein, as well as two of his aides. A State Bureau of Investigation

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A report from the Associated Press says that in RALEIGH, N.C. On Monday, a local North Carolina grand jury moved forward with considering possible criminal charges against North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein and two aides in connection with an investigation into a political ad targeting Stein’s 2020 election opponent.

The Wake County grand jury, having heard from an SBI agent, has requested in writing that the Wake district attorney’s office present an indictment “against any and each” of three individuals, including Stein.

The “presentation” document signed by the jury foreperson on Monday named the Democratic attorney general, his 2020 campaign manager Eric Stern, and the current chief of staff at the state Justice Department, Seth Dearmin, a former Stein campaign manager. They are not facing any criminal charges at this time.

Stein, who may run for governor in 2024, issued a statement in which he criticized a probe he called “nonsense.”

Forsyth County District Attorney Jim O’Neill, Stein’s Republican opponent, filed a complaint with the State Board of Elections in the fall of 2020. He claimed that Stein’s campaign was spreading a libelous political ad in violation of a law that has been on the books for 91 years.

The O’Neill campaign responded negatively to a commercial from Stein’s campaign that falsely accused Republican incumbent Tom O’Neill of allowing over a thousand rape kits to go untested. In 2021, the office of Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman launched an investigation.

Freeman, a fellow Democrat, stated on Monday that an indictment recommendation from her office could be presented to the grand jury as early as next month. However, the prosecutor’s case may be derailed by a ruling from the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as soon as this week.

The campaign committee for Stein has confirmed the ad’s veracity.

The Stein campaign said in a statement released on Monday that Freeman “continues to pursue her nonsense investigation over a campaign ad that is true from an election that is long since passed, using a 91 year old statute that has never been used against any other candidate.” “The attorney general is frustrated by this ongoing diversion, but he is committed to his mission of ensuring that victims of sexual assault receive justice.

Freeman has handed the case over to a senior assistant after she recused herself from it, citing her professional relationship with O’Neill and Stein.

Last week, Stein’s campaign committee asked the appeals court to issue a preliminary injunction preventing the state law from being enforced while the committee and other plaintiffs seek to strike it down as unconstitutional. Judge Catherine Eagles of the U.S. District Court ruled against granting the injunction last week.

Intentionally spreading a false “derogatory report” about a candidate that could hurt their chances of being elected is against the law, and has been since at least 1931.

A person convicted of the misdemeanor for breaking the law faces up to 60 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines, but no jail time if they have no prior convictions for any other crimes. The Democratic candidate’s chances in the upcoming election could be damaged by any criminal charges brought against Stein or his staff.

Hannah Schoenbaum is an intern for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Nonprofit organization Report for America places journalists in local newsrooms to cover stories that aren’t getting enough attention. If you’re on Twitter, you can find her at @H Schoenbaum.