Mark Harris thought he was going to be a Congressman. After election day in North Carolina's 9th District, he was ahead by 905 votes.
Then his campaign was caught executing a systemic election fraud operation. In an attempt to parry the allegations, Harris put himself at risk of perjury and obstruction of justice charges. The North Carolina election board ordered a new election and Harris, citing health concerns, said he would not run.
But before Harris faded into the sunset, he had one last thing to say: For the new election, he was endorsing Stony Rushing.
Rushing, a county commissioner, quickly gained notoriety for featuring a picture of himself dressed like Boss Hogg, the villain from The Dukes of Hazzard, on his campaign Facebook page.
On the show, Boss Hogg was a greedy politician known for his corrupt schemes like moonshining and counterfeiting. But in 2015, the real Stony Rushing was involved in a scheme that was more bizarre than anything dreamed up on TV.
Rushing's tween daughter files suit
On December 7, 2015, Rushing submitted a hand-written complaint to the Union County District Court on behalf of his tween daughter. The filing was quite serious: "COMPLAINT FOR NO-CONTACT ORDER FOR STALKING OR NON-CONSENSUAL SEXUAL CONDUCT." The complaint targeted a woman named Tracy Wesolek, who was active in local Republican politics.
Rushing asked the court to issue a temporary no-contact order "ex parte (without notice to the defendant) because the plaintiff will suffer immediate injury, loss, or damage before the defendant could be heard."
He requested that the no-contact order cover a variety of appalling conduct including assault, molestation, and stalking.
When it came to the details about what Wesolek had actually done, however, Rushing was vague. The complaint is supposed to document how the defendant "tormented, terrorized, or terrified the plaintiff… with the intent to put the plaintiff in reasonable fear for the plaintiff's safety… with the intent to cause, and which did cause, the plaintiff to suffer severe emotional distress by placing the plaintiff in fear of death, bodily injury or continued torment or terror."
Rushing provided a two-sentence description of Wesolek's conduct, saying Wesolek "has shown jealousy toward my daughter" and "made negative remarks to me about my daughter."
Remarkably, a court issued a temporary order to Rushing without hearing from Wesolek. But things would quickly go south.
The Rushing deposition
Wesolek hired an attorney, John Snyder, to represent her in the case. Although it was unusual for a case filed in district court, Snyder suggested taking Rushing's deposition to force him on the record. Rushing represented himself.
In the deposition, Rushing, who is married, admitted to having an affair with Wesolek and -- shortly before filing the lawsuit on behalf of his daughter -- professing his love for Wesolek.
In the deposition, Rushing based his claim that Wesolek was stalking his daughter on a Facebook post from Wesolek's adult son, which made fun of Rushing's daughter's weight. Rushing also presented some other posts about his daughter that he claimed came from a fake Facebook persona controlled by Wesolek. But he had nothing to support that allegation. There was no evidence that Wesolek had posted anything about Rushing's daughter or any other family member.
In an interview with Popular Information, Snyder said he believed the real purpose of the no-contact order was to provide Rushing, a staunch social conservative, with "political cover" for his affair by depicting Wesolek as a "psycho stalker."
Rushing's legal maneuvering may have been intended to intimidate Wesolek from talking about the affair. According to Snyder, news of their relationship had begun circulating in North Carolina political circles and Rushing believed that Wesolek was responsible. In the deposition, however, Rushing admitted he had told at least one other person about the affair -- making him the potential source of the rumors.
After the deposition, Snyder offered Rushing an opportunity to drop the matter so that Rushing could avoid further embarrassment. But Rushing insisted on going to trial.
Stony Rushing goes to court
Rushing, still representing himself, took the stand as the first witness. News of the unusual trial had gotten around and local attorneys crowded into the courtroom to watch the action. It didn't last long.
Under cross-examination, Rushing admitted to his affair with Wesolek. Rushing was also forced to acknowledge that he had no evidence that Wesolek had sent any communications at all to his daughter. Confronted with the fact that Wesolek could not be held responsible for the actions of her college-aged son, Rushing pledged to get him kicked out of school.
After Rushing's testimony, Snyder made an oral motion to the judge to dismiss the case. The judge granted the motion and vacated the temporary no-contact order.
"I was satisfied with the results in court and haven't looked back," Wesolek told Popular Information.
In an interview with Popular Information, Rushing said that he filed for a no-contact order because Wesolek was "saying things about my daughter." Asked to elaborate on Wesolek's conduct, Rushing claimed that "as part of the judge's order" he was not supposed to talk about it. That claim is false. The judge dismissed Rushing's case and did not issue any additional orders.
Asked whether he had an affair with Wesolek, Rushing refused to answer. He promised Popular Information an exclusive interview about "everyone I had sex with from virginity to today" once Popular Information asked Democrat Dan McCready a series of questions.
Rushing quickly ended the interview and immediately posted about it on Facebook.
Rushing threatens colleague
The courtroom isn't the only place you'll find fireworks from Rushing. In an October 2, 2006 meeting of the Union County Board of Commissioners, Rushing threatened to "whip" and "slap" another commissioner.
Commissioner Mike Sexton said that Rushing hadn't "brought one positive initiative" in four years on the commission. That set Rushing off. He asked the chairman of the commission for a recess before "I lose my temper."
When the chairman did not agree, Rushing became even more agitated. "Mr. Chairman, I'm begging you to call for a recess. He's fixing to get in the middle of getting his rear end whipped," Rushing said.
"What are you going to do in a recess?" the chairman asked.
"I might go slap his face," Rushing replied.
Thanks for reading!