2 North Carolina state legislators lose leadership roles after remarks

May 25, 2023, 11:38 AM

Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives stand in prayer, May 2, 2020, in the North C...

Members of the North Carolina House of Representatives stand in prayer, May 2, 2020, in the North Carolina General Assembly building in Raleigh, N.C. Two North Carolina state House Republicans have lost their caucus leadership positions after recent comments directed at Democratic colleagues questioning their religion and educational attainment. A top House GOP leader announced on Thursday, May 25, 2023 that Reps. Keith Kidwell and Jeff McNeely, who are both white, are no longer deputy majority whips after their resignations were sought by other GOP leaders. (Casey Toth/The News & Observer via AP)

(Casey Toth/The News & Observer via AP)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Two North Carolina state House Republicans have lost their caucus leadership positions after recent comments directed at Democratic colleagues questioning their educational attainment and religion.

Reps. Keith Kidwell and Jeff McNeely have resigned as deputy majority whips after the GOP leadership team asked them to step down, House Majority Leader John Bell said in a news release on Thursday.

“As elected officials, we must serve by example and be accountable for our actions, especially as leaders in the caucus,” Bell said. “While apologies have been made and accepted, we believe this is an appropriate action and step forward.”

Neither McNeely nor Kidwell, both of whom are white, responded immediately Thursday to phone messages left at their legislative offices seeking comment. They remain sitting legislators. Deputy whips are tasked with helping corral votes on issues important to members of their party. The Democrats who were the subjects of the comments are both Black.

During a May 17 debate on legislation to dramatically expand the state’s private-school voucher system, McNeely asked Democratic Rep. Abe Jones, a former trial judge, about attending Harvard University and Harvard law school.

McNeely asked Jones whether he would “have been able to maybe achieve this if you were not an athlete or a minority or any of these things, but you were a student trapped” in a low-performing school.

House Minority Leader Robert Reives complained at once about the question. Speaker Tim Moore cut off McNeely, who later apologized to Jones, saying it “did not come out right.”

The night before, during another tense debate on whether to override Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto of a bill banning most abortions after 12 weeks, Democratic Rep. Diamond Staton-Williams discussed growing up attending church and how it influenced her views.

WRAL-TV reported that a station’s reporter sitting on the floor overheard Kidwell making an aside that Staton-Williams must have meant the church of Satan.

“To challenge a person’s religion when they share a deeply personal story … that is beneath the dignity of this House and that is beneath the dignity of any elected office,” Reives said, citing the news report during a floor speech the next day. Kidwell did not respond publicly at the time.

Moore didn’t criticize McNeely or Kidwell on the floor but later urged colleagues to be respectful of each other.

Staton-Williams said last week “it is unfortunate for someone to question my faith — especially another member of this chamber — when it doesn’t align with his.”

Thursday’s announcement by Bell was made public during a sparsely-attended House floor session. There were no recorded floor votes as most legislators already had gone home for the Memorial Day weekend.

Kidwell is a senior chairman of the powerful House Finance Committee and McNeely is a chairman of the House transportation and agriculture committees. The two also are involved in the chamber’s House Freedom Caucus.

Reives said later Thursday he supported the actions taken against the two Republicans, and that it was up to other top Republicans as to whether they should face additional political penalties.

The resignations come after disruptions in other statehouses this spring that led to actions by and against legislators. In Tennessee, House Republicans several Republicans in Oregon whose walkout helped prevent a quorum in the state Senate are disqualified from serving as lawmakers in the next term.

United States News

This photo provided by the chipmaker Nvidia shows the company’s HGX H100 module, which can use as...

Associated Press

AI chips are hot. Here’s what they are, what they’re for and why investors see gold

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The hottest thing in technology is an unprepossessing sliver of silicon closely related to the chips that power video game graphics. It’s an artificial intelligence chip, designed specifically to make building AI systems such as ChatGPT faster and cheaper. Such chips have suddenly taken center stage in what some experts consider […]

23 hours ago

Natalie R. Coles, vice president & chief development officer at Wilberforce University, poses on th...

Associated Press

US companies, nudged by Black employees, have stepped up donations to HBCUs

Natalie Coles will never forget receiving an unexpected phone call in 2020. On the line was Virginia-based Dominion Energy, offering to give money to Wilberforce University, the small historically Black college where she is in charge of fundraising. The company’s $500,000 donation went in part toward laptops and hot spots for students when the pandemic […]

23 hours ago

FILE - This booking photo provided by the Clay County, Mo., Sheriff's Office shows Andrew Lester. L...

Associated Press

Judge agrees to seal court documents in Ralph Yarl shooting; suspect to be in court

LIBERTY, Mo. (AP) — A Kansas City man accused of shooting a Black teenager who mistakenly came to his door last month is scheduled to be back in court Thursday, days after a judge ruled that court documents in the case will be sealed and kept from the public. The hearing for 84-year-old Andrew Lester […]

23 hours ago

FILE - Susana Lujano, left, a dreamer from Mexico who lives in Houston, joins other activists to ra...

Associated Press

Revised DACA program to be debated before Texas judge who previously ruled against it

HOUSTON (AP) — A revised version of a federal policy that prevents the deportation of hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought to the U.S. as children is set to be debated Thursday before a federal judge who previously ruled the program illegal. Attorneys representing the nine states that have sued to end the Deferred Action […]

23 hours ago

FILE - Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court case that lega...

Associated Press

LGBTQ+ Pride month kicks off with protests, parades, parties

NEW YORK (AP) — The start of June marks the beginning of Pride month around the U.S. and some parts of the world, a season to celebrate the lives and experiences of LGBTQ+ communities and to protest against recent attacks on hard-won civil rights gains. This year’s Pride takes place in a contentious political climate […]

23 hours ago

Associated Press

After sailing though House on bipartisan vote, Biden-McCarthy debt ceiling deal now goes to Senate

WASHINGTON (AP) — Veering away from a default crisis, the House overwhelmingly approved a debt ceiling and budget cuts package, sending the deal that President Joe Biden and Speaker Kevin McCarthy negotiated to the Senate for swift passage in a matter of days, before a fast-approaching deadline. The hard-fought compromise pleased few, but lawmakers assessed […]

23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles


Desert Institute for Spine Care

Spinal fusion surgery has come a long way, despite misconceptions

As Dr. Justin Field of the Desert Institute for Spine Care explained, “we've come a long way over the last couple of decades.”


OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

How to identify the symptoms of 3 common anxiety disorders

Living with an anxiety disorder can be debilitating and cause significant stress for those who suffer from the condition.

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.

2 North Carolina state legislators lose leadership roles after remarks