Days after conservatives made a video go viral of North Carolina Rep. Bob Etheridge (D) getting rough with an unidentified videographer, a North Carolina paper quotes a former resident who alleges that Etheridge also got rough with him.
Brandon Leslie, who moved away seven years ago and is now an attorney in Oxford, Miss., said he had an encounter with the now seven-term Democratic congressman from Lillington almost 14 years ago.
In the fall of 1996, when Leslie was a senior at Pinecrest High School, he said he met Etheridge at a Pinecrest football game. Etheridge - then the state superintendent of public instruction - was challenging incumbent Republican David Funderburk for his congressional seat. At the time, Moore County was part of the 2nd District, which Etheridge now represents.
Leslie said he introduced himself to Etheridge and asked him about his stance on a particular education program. He said Etheridge didn't answer his question, so he pressed him two more times.
"And that's when he grabbed me by the shoulders, he shook me, and I'll never forget it, he said, 'Son, you need to learn to respect your elders,'" he said by phone on Wednesday. "I was just so taken aback, I think my jaw just dropped, and he walked off."
Leslie said he was angrier about Etheridge's attitude and "patronizing" tone than the physical contact.
"It wasn't to hurt me, it wasn't to harm me," he says. "It was that he was irritated and wanted to get my attention."
*** UDPATE *** Etheridge's office emails a statement from Bob Greene, the retired principal of Pinecrest High School, who served in that post in 1996: “The story in today’s Pilot is inaccurate. I witnessed the event firsthand 14 years ago. The student was in the wrong, and Bob Etheridge acted appropriately at all times. I would have been happy to tell the newspaper reporter the facts in this matter, but I was never contacted before the story appeared in the newspaper.”