Liberal group: Public records request of a professor is a conspiracy by conservatives working with governor

A progressive group in North Carolina has claimed that a conservative organization's public records request of a professor’s emails is a form of "retribution" from the governor's office.

Scholars for North Carolina’s Future (SNCF) has criticized the Civitas Institute’s (CI) request for the work emails of notable University of North Carolina (UNC) professor Gene Nichol, claiming it's a plot by Governor Pat McCrory, according to local news source WRAL.

SNCF made the claims in a letter released on Saturday which was signed by dozens of professors and delivered to McCroy’s office.  In the letter, SNCF claims McCrory is using CI to intimidate Nichol, who is an outspoken critic of the governor.

“...citizens may reasonably infer that a sitting administration is using a private tax-exempt nonprofit organization funded by one of its leading officials to retaliate for criticism of its policies and intimidate future dissent,” it reads.

SNCF points to the fact that McCroy’s budget director Art Pope is a donor to CI, and used to sit on their board of directors.

"Civitas, of course, means to harass Mr. Nichol. But its more far-reaching aim – and the reason we are here – is that it aims to intimidate any scholar, teacher or other public employee who might criticize the governor," said Duke University professor Nancy MacLean to WRAL.

CI refuted the claims of SNCF in a post on their website yesterday, calling it a “political stunt" and stated their records request is not linked with Nichol's criticism of McCrory.

CI wrote that their request is part of an investigation of Nichol's role at the UNC Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity.

Nichol made national headlines in 2006 after he removed a cross from an on-campus chapel during his tenure as president of William and Mary.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @TimPDion

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