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2022 ELECTIONS

Sandy Smith denies domestic violence claims in heated GOP congressional primary

Posted on May 7, 2022

Updated on May 8, 2022

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Sandy Smith holds a frying pan in a picture she tweeted Saturday with the message “Washington DC, here we come.” While denying allegations of domestic violence against two ex-husbands including a claim that she struck one with a frying pan, Smith has adopted the cookware as a campaign symbol.

Screen capture

Sandy Smith holds a frying pan in a picture she tweeted Saturday with the message “Washington DC, here we come.” While denying allegations of domestic violence against two ex-husbands including a claim that she struck one with a frying pan, Smith has adopted the cookware as a campaign symbol.

Three succesive tweets posted to Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Sandy Smith’s Twitter account on Friday rebuff claims that she hit an ex-husband with a frying pan.

Screen capture

Three succesive tweets posted to Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Sandy Smith’s Twitter account on Friday rebuff claims that she hit an ex-husband with a frying pan.

Republican congressional candidate Sandy Smith, left, denied domestic violence allegations included in divorce filings her primary opponent Sandy Roberson, right, released online.

Contributed photos

Republican congressional candidate Sandy Smith, left, denied domestic violence allegations included in divorce filings her primary opponent Sandy Roberson, right, released online.

Sandy Smith holds a frying pan in a picture she tweeted Saturday with the message “Washington DC, here we come.” While denying allegations of domestic violence against two ex-husbands including a claim that she struck one with a frying pan, Smith has adopted the cookware as a campaign symbol.

Screen capture

Sandy Smith holds a frying pan in a picture she tweeted Saturday with the message “Washington DC, here we come.” While denying allegations of domestic violence against two ex-husbands including a claim that she struck one with a frying pan, Smith has adopted the cookware as a campaign symbol.

Three succesive tweets posted to Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Sandy Smith’s Twitter account on Friday rebuff claims that she hit an ex-husband with a frying pan.

Screen capture

Three succesive tweets posted to Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Sandy Smith’s Twitter account on Friday rebuff claims that she hit an ex-husband with a frying pan.

Three succesive tweets posted to Republican 1st Congressional District candidate Sandy Smith’s Twitter account on Friday rebuff claims that she hit an ex-husband with a frying pan.
Republican congressional candidate Sandy Smith, left, denied domestic violence allegations included in divorce filings her primary opponent Sandy Roberson, right, released online.
Sandy Smith holds a frying pan in a picture she tweeted Saturday with the message “Washington DC, here we come.” While denying allegations of domestic violence against two ex-husbands including a claim that she struck one with a frying pan, Smith has adopted the cookware as a campaign symbol.

cfriedman@wilsontimes.com | 252-265-7813

Republican U.S. House candidate Sandy Smith took to Twitter on Friday to publicly deny allegations that she struck one ex-husband with a frying pan and beat another with a clock radio.

Those domestic violence claims — along with an accusation that she punched and slapped her teenage daughter a decade ago — are detailed in a cache of opposition research that GOP primary rival and Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson published online in a voluminous May 3 document dump. Smith said a radio attack ad references the spousal abuse complaints.

“For those asking about the latest desperate ad attacking me, they said I hit people in the head with a frying pan and an alarm clock! I never heard something so ridiculous in my life!,” Smith wrote on her verified Twitter account, @SandySmithNC, followed by emojis for an egg in a frying pan, an alarm clock and a sideways laughing and crying face.

In a follow-up tweet, she wrote, “I am a smiling #MAGA fighter red headed firecracker (emoji) not some nutty lady running around whacking people with household items.”

Smith and Roberson are working to win over Republican primary voters in North Carolina’s 1st Congressional District, which leans Democratic but is more competitive under court-approved redistricting maps. With Rep. G.K. Butterfield, D-Wilson, leaving office next year, the GOP hopes to flip the seat in November’s midterms, which traditionally favor the party out of power.

Both candidates reported more than $1 million in campaign fundraising through the first quarter of 2022, which ended March 31.

RELATED STORY: It's Sandy vs. Sandy in congressional money race

Also appearing on 1st District Republican primary ballots are Brad Murphy, Billy Strickland, Brent Roberson, Will Aiken, Ernest Reeves and Henry Williams II.

DAUGHTER CLAIMED ABUSE

Smith’s teen daughter applied for a domestic violence protective order in July 2012 but asked a judge to dismiss the case nine days later, according to Lenoir County court records Roberson’s campaign released online.

The girl wrote that her mother, then known as Sandra Anderson, assaulted her at the family’s home on N.C. 11 South outside Kinston.

“It all started because my mom is trying to force me to go into the military,” she wrote on a court-provided form containing her complaint and motion for a domestic violence protective order. “Apparently a recruiter was scheduled to pick me up on 7/11/12 to take me to P.T. training they scheduled. I told her I did not want to join the military. We began arguing and she told me I’m going to be nothing in life, and I’m going to be a ‘trailer trash loser.’”

The Wilson Times isn’t naming Smith’s daughter because she was a minor when the motion was filed.

Smith “pushed and shoved me, she slapped me, pulled my hair, pulled me to the ground and sat on me,” the girl wrote. “She held me down by my hair and punched me in the face with a closed fist.”

The complaint and motion form states that the girl’s boyfriend picked her up and took her to the emergency room after she gave a statement to a sheriff’s deputy.

In the court filing, the teen accused her mother and a relative of assaulting her “on multiple occasions” and calling her names, some with crude sexual connotations.

Assistant Clerk of Superior Court Wanda B. Cox issued an ex-parte domestic violence order of protection on July 11 that prohibited Smith from having any contact with her daughter until a hearing on the motion scheduled for July 20.

District Court Judge Elizabeth Heath dismissed the case when the parties appeared before her. “The plaintiff requested that this matter be set aside,” a note in the court’s order states.

As of this writing, Smith hasn’t publicly addressed the 2012 family violence allegations.

In a Saturday tweet, Smith said she prefers communicating on Twitter over allowing journalists to interview her.

“Some swamper people are whining saying I don’t talk to the media,” she wrote. “Why would I talk to the communist #FakeNews? They aren’t pro-America. They lie and twist everything patriots say. I would rather talk directly to the people — which is what I am doing on here.”

DIVORCE ALLEGATIONS

Then-husband Eric Goranson accused Smith of assault in an August 2009 declaration he filed in support of a motion for temporary restraining orders in divorce litigation.

“I was awoken abruptly when I felt a severe head pain,” he wrote in the court filing. “Ms. Goranson had hit me across the left side of my face with our radio/alarm clock. She continued a barrage of physical assaults against me, using her hands, the clock and a broom. Still in a daze, I ran into the bathroom and locked the door. She proceeded to break through the door and continue her crazed attack. She then screamed for me to leave.”

The candidate and Goranson were married in Gig Harbor, Washington, on Aug. 25, 2007, and separated less than two years later, with Goranson filing for divorce shortly thereafter.

Goranson’s declaration filed in Pierce County Superior Court acknowledges the spouses accused each other of domestic violence. Police arrested both parties on July 3, 2009, the day of the alleged alarm clock assault, and all criminal charges were later dismissed.

In a Saturday email to The Wilson Times, Goranson said he witnessed his ex-wife abusing her daughter.

“I had walked in from work early and she was home dragging her daughter ... down the hallway by her hair backwards screaming,” he wrote. “When she stopped in the living room, she punched (the girl) in the face with a closed fist. I stepped in and broke it up and sent (the girl) to her room and the argument ensued.”

Goranson said that episode occurred “a handful of days” before she struck him with the alarm clock. He believes his argument with Smith over her treatment of the child — Smith’s daughter from her prior marriage — led to what he called “her planned assault.”

Goranson also commented on an early version of this story posted to the Times’ Facebook page. He said a picture Smith tweeted on Saturday that shows her holding a frying pan makes light of spousal abuse.

“It is shocking that a Woman that has committed Domestic Violence against Men proudly proclaims that she is going to again act out with the very same thing that symbolizes Domestic Violence from Women is disturbing and tone deaf,” he wrote in a Facebook comment. “As her ex-husband she needs to get help.”

Court records show Smith married Randall Edward Auman Jr. in 1995 while living in Georgia, and the couple divorced in 2001.

Claims that she “tried to run over Mr. Auman, hit him in the head with a frying pan, threw things at him when she didn’t get her way” are included in a summary of investigators’ findings in one 66-page compilation of records, but they don’t appear in any of the Cobb County pleadings related to the divorce case that Roberson’s camp released.

OPPOSITION RESEARCH

A memo from Roberson’s campaign posted to his Twitter account, @SandyRobersonNC, at 3:03 p.m. May 3 includes a link to the court documents hosted on Google Drive.

Emails included in the documents, which include 10 large PDF files along with a Microsoft Word document and two screen captures, indicate Macks Pickett Investigative Services of Raleigh conducted much of the research and was looking into Smith’s background as recently as April 19.

“It is our understanding sitting Democratic Congressman G.K. Butterfield had this information during his 2020 election against Sandy Smith, but opted not to use it due to the race not being close,” the unsigned memo on Sandy Roberson for Congress letterhead states. “However, in 2022, which is primed to be an excellent environment for Republicans, we do not expect the Democrats to hold this information back, should Sandy Smith become the Republican nominee.”

While Macks Pickett provided a large quantity of the files Roberson released, it’s unclear whether his campaign also received records from other sources.

Goranson said someone working on Butterfield’s behalf phoned him in August 2021 and spoke to him about the allegations in his divorce filings.

Smith blamed Butterfield for the mudslinging on Friday before turning her ire on Roberson the next day, faulting the Rocky Mount mayor for that city’s recent spike in violent crime.

“Butterfield retired because of the whooping we gave him last time,” Smith wrote. “Now his smear campaign people are trying to stop us so we don’t beat his deep state lackeys. Not going to work. The people are too smart.”

Butterfield won reelection by more than 29,000 votes in November 2020, receiving 188,870 votes (54.2%) to Smith’s 159,748 (45.8%).

Following a series of tweets that deny the divorce allegations, Smith made light of those claims and suggested an object symbolizing the political broadside would adorn her congressional office after the dust settles.

“When we win I am gonna take a frying pan to DC,” she wrote, followed by the frying egg and sideways crying-laughing emojis.

Smith doubled down on the pledge the next day, tweeting the picture of herself holding a frying pan in a kitchen.

The Carolina Journal, a newspaper published by the conservative John Locke Foundation, first reported the spousal assault claims on Thursday.

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