Hours after disgraced North Carolina Sheriff Jody Greene announced his long-awaited resignation, the top cop who was caught on tape calling his Black colleagues “bastards” made it clear his exit was just a strategy to ensure that he could continue his reelection campaign.
Greene submitted his resignation letter Monday morning, just as a petition to remove him from office was being heard in a Columbus County courtroom. His abrupt exit was met with cheers from local residents and civil rights leaders who’d been calling for his removal for weeks.
But by resigning before the county’s attempt to remove him from office could move forward, Greene is free to continue his reelection bid without consequences. And later that night, in a Facebook post published just eight hours after his resignation, he made clear his intentions to do just that—despite widespread calls for him to step down and an ongoing criminal probe by the North Carolina Bureau of Investigation.
“There are two weeks left before the election, early voting is in progress, and there is a move afoot to usurp the votes of law-abiding citizens,” Greene wrote in the Facebook post.
“I cannot afford to spend the next week fighting in a courtroom while we are in the middle of an election to preserve our freedom. I’m still running for Sheriff of Columbus County in the November 8, 2022 election. I am running to make Columbus County better and safer for all our citizens.”
The post received hundreds of likes and comments from supporters who applauded his decision to stay in the race and announced their intentions to vote for him.
The Columbus County Republican Party did not immediately respond to VICE News’ request for comment, but the organization’s chairman told local NBC affiliate WECT-6 that it will support his bid.
“We have no plans to ask him to withdraw his candidacy,” party chairman Sammy Hinson told the outlet. “Our plans are for him to win and win big. The voters will decide based upon his performance as sheriff, not special interest groups from outside our county with an agenda.”
In late September, audio of Greene venting his frustrations over his Black employees was published by WECT-6. In the recording, Greene rants about Black deputies spreading rumors about him to aid his incumbent opponent, the county’s first Black sheriff, Lewis Hatcher. The comments were made in February 2019, as he awaited the results of the highly contested 2018 election, which Greene would win by just 34 votes. In the audio, Greene threatened to fire all of his Black employees in a phone conversation with then-interim sheriff Jason Soles.
“I’m sick of it. I’m sick of these Black bastards,” Greene told Soles during one six-and-a-half-minute conversation. “I’m going to clean house and be done with it. And we’ll start from there.”
Soles, who recorded the conversation, is now running against Greene in the upcoming 2022 election. While Greene has adamantly denied being a racist, the local chapter of the NAACP, the American Civil Liberties Union, and even the county’s Republican District Attorney Jon David all called for his resignation. He was eventually suspended by a superior court judge earlier this month.
David said that his office is ready to take action should Greene win his reelection bid.
“These allegations speak through time and are disqualifying to anyone seeking to hold the high office of sheriff,” David said in a statement Monday. “My office would have an ethical obligation to file, and will file, a new Petition to remove Greene from that term of office based on the allegations alleged in the current Petition to Remove.”
The Columbus County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately return VICE News’ request for comment.
Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.