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North Carolina LGBTQ+ center head was fired after allegations of fraud

“After a more thorough investigation, her employment was terminated. All of us at the Center were devastated and felt betrayed”



Lindsey Lughes via Out! Raleigh Pride 2020 Committee/LGBT Center of Raleigh archive page

RALEIGH – In a statement posted to its website Friday, the LGBTQ+ center in the North Carolina capital city notified the community that the center’s former executive director had been fired after “unusual financial activity” in the non-profit’s finances were found.

The details of the termination last summer of former executive director Lindsey Lughes, who had became executive director of the center in 2019, had not been previously publicly disclosed, until a request came last week from local media outlet WRAL News inquiring as to the reason for her being let go.

The center’s interim director Dolph Goldenburg wrote in the statement;

In April 2019, we announced that Lindsey Lughes would join the Center as our new Executive Director, following a national search conducted by our board. Lindsey had an impressive background in LGBTQ+ non-profit work. We were excited to have her lead our organization, which is one of the few in North Carolina — and the only in Raleigh — to provide life-saving resources and programming to the LGBTQ+ community.

However, last summer we discovered some unusual financial activity in our books. After consulting with our accounting contractor and enlisting a law firm to investigate, Lindsey was placed on an immediate suspension. After a more thorough investigation, her employment was terminated. All of us at the Center were devastated and felt betrayed by Lindsey’s actions.

Nonprofits are particularly vulnerable to fraud for a variety of reasons, and unfortunately are less likely to report fraud to law enforcement for fear of reputation damage. We, however, made the intentional decision to quickly refer this to law enforcement and a criminal investigation is underway by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.

We had planned to publicly share information about the fraud after charges had been filed because we do not want to interfere with the investigation. As the result of a recent media request, we are disclosing the fraud but not sharing information about how the fraud was perpetrated or the investigation itself.

While the SBI has been conducting this investigation, our Board and the Center have mobilized over the last 7 months to ensure something like this never happens again.

We implemented stricter internal controls and a wider separation of duties and have formed a finance committee of four people — including two board members. A CPA is reviewing a 3-year period (fiscal year 2019, 2020, and 2021).

We are also grateful that our institutional funders have been extremely supportive and stand by us as we commit to this financial overhaul.

Additionally, the Center’s Board of Directors has enlisted Kevin Chase Search Group to recruit the Center’s next Executive Director. We will seek a diverse and representative pool of candidates with deep LGBTQIA expertise, as well as candidates with an understanding of intersectionality, marginalized communities, and experience engaging with people of different socioeconomic backgrounds.

In the interim, Dolph Goldenburg — an experienced non-profit director and LGBTQ+ advocate — has been serving as the Interim Executive Director, and our staff continue providing programs and services.

It’s never easy to convey this news. But we must be driven by our north star: how this Center can provide thousands of LGBTQ+ people in Raleigh and North Carolina with support and community. In a state that has an unfortunate history of homophobia and transphobia, our work could not be more critical.”

WRAL noted that the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation does not comment on investigations in progress, so WRAL News was unable to independently confirm the allegation. A search of court records showed no charges filed against Lughes as of Friday.

The outlet also reached out to Lughes for comment, but she did not immediately respond.

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North Carolina

Right-wing Rep. Madison Cawthorn caught nude in leaked ‘sexual’ video

The roughly 30-second clip shows what appears to be a nude Cawthorn in a bed thrusting with his groin near the head of an unidentified male



Madison Cawthorn (Screenshot/Queen City News NC YouTube)

WASHINGTON – Republican U.S. Representative Madison Cawthorn, the 26-year-old freshman from North Carolina, has experienced yet another provocative social media leak. The latest, a video, shows a nude young man strongly resembling Cawthorn on a sofa ‘dry humping’ in a contextually simulated sexual manner another young male. A wheelchair similar to the type used by the congressman is in the foreground.

The roughly 30-second clip shows what appears to be a nude Cawthorn in a bed thrusting with his groin near the head of an unidentified male person. A male voice can be heard saying, “Oh ma yah yah oh” repeatedly. A male voice can also be heard laughing and saying, “stick it in his face.”

The Congressman, who is up for reelection later this month, has drawn scrutiny recently for driving with a revoked license; two attempts to bring a loaded gun through airport security; allegations of sexual harassment; calling Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky a “thug;” reportedly denying a staffer leave when two family members passed away within the same week, and another video that leaked with a male friend placing his hand on Cawthorn’s genitals.

The Congressman, who has been confined to a wheelchair since an accident in 2014, has been one of the most vocal proponents to anything resembling equality. He’s posed for photos with other politicians who wants to revoke LGBTQ+ rights, such as Matt Gaetz, Marjorie Taylor Green, and Lauren Boebert. All have drawn scorn for their backwards-leaning agendas.

There’s an obvious parallel between Cawthorn and former conservative politician Aaron Schock, who was Republican U.S. Representative for Illinois’s 18th congressional district from 2009 until 2015. Schock was under investigation for extravagant spending and eventually came out as a gay man following the release of very explicit photos. 

Cawthorn is facing a slew of controversies and questions about misconduct. His recent troubles include allegations of an improper relationship with a staffer and after photos surfaced showing Cawthorn wearing women’s lingerie ― images he said were from a “goofy” game on a cruise ― and a video that showed one of his male staff members grabbing his crotch. The latter video has sparked an ethics complaint.

Congressman Cawthorn’s biggest scandals is now in federal court in a suit over his eligibility to run again for reelection.

Cawthorn has seemingly verified the authenticity of the video. In a tweet on Wednesday, he said: A new hit against me just dropped. Years ago, in this video, I was being crass with a friend, trying to be funny. We were acting foolish and joking. That’s it. I’m NOT backing down. I told you there would be a drip drip campaign. Blackmail won’t win. We will.

The Huffington Post reported that he has also made headlines over allegations of insider trading, trying to bring a loaded handgun onto a plane for the second time and having to surrender his driver’s license after driving with a suspended license.

In late March, he also raised some eyebrows when he claimed that the D.C. elite had previously invited him to orgies and done cocaine in front of him.

Editor’s note: These are links to the video. It is graphic and depicts simulated sexual acts. Viewer discretion is advised: YouTube Link: Here Twitter Link: Here

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North Carolina

N.C. Supreme Court rules domestic violence protections apply to LGBTQ+

“No matter where we come from or who we love, we should all be able to agree that everyone deserves protections from domestic violence”



N.C. Supreme Court (Photo Credit: State of N.C. Courts)

RALEIGH – In a victory for LGBTQ+ equality, the N.C. Supreme Court affirmed a Court of Appeals decision establishing that people in same-sex dating relationships cannot be excluded from domestic violence protections.

The opinion in M.E. v. T.J was issued after the defendant appealed the December 2020 Court of Appeals decision holding that it was unconstitutional to exclude LGBTQ+ couples from domestic violence protections. North Carolina was the last state in the nation to deny certain domestic violence protections to those in same-sex dating relationships. 

The ACLU of North Carolina and attorney Amily McCool of the Scharff Law Firm represent M.E., a survivor of domestic violence who was denied a protective order simply because the person who was verbally and physically threatening to her also happened to be a woman. 

“No matter where we come from or who we love, we should all be able to agree that everyone deserves to have protections from domestic violence,” said M.E. “I appreciate the state Supreme Court being clear that no one who is a victim of domestic violence will be denied their right to have protection.”

“We appreciate the N.C. Supreme Court’s clarification that the Court of Appeals ruling stands undisturbed against meritless, merely technical attacks.  Our state constitution provides robust protections against sex-based discrimination, including discrimination arising from sexual orientation and gender identity,” said Irena Como, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU of North Carolina. “In holding that the administration of justice prohibits the elevation of form over function, especially in domestic violence proceedings involving people who have been traumatized, today’s decision ensures that the legal system should conform to the needs of people, not the other way around.”  

People in same-sex relationships are just as likely as people in opposite-sex relationships to be survivors of domestic violence. According to the North Carolina Department of Justice, more than 157,000 North Carolinians were survivors of domestic violence in 2014. 

Attorney General Josh Stein, Governor Roy Cooper, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Legal Aid of North Carolina, the North Carolina Justice Center, the Pauli Murray LGBTQ+ Bar Association, and a group of ten former North Carolina District Court judges submitted amicus briefs in the case urging the court to uphold the Court of Appeals ruling that excluding same-sex dating couples from domestic violence protections is unconstitutional.

The N.C. Supreme Court opinion is available here.

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North Carolina

Brewery launches LGBTQ+ fundraiser in homophobic politician’s name

A portion of profits from every pint of Don’t Be Mean To People will go to help the LGBTQ community grow, thrive, and find acceptance



"The Lieutenant Governor Fund for the Fabulous," graphic courtesy of Ponysaurus Brewing Company

DURHAM N.C. — A local craft brewery in North Carolina has launched a cheeky campaign fundraiser for the LGBTQ+ community in the name of the state’s homo/transphobic Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson.

Raleigh NBC-affiliate WRAL 5 reported that Ponysaurus Brewing Company in Durham has launched “The Lieutenant Governor Fund for the Fabulous,” with a portion of profits from each pint of its “Don’t Be Mean to People” beer being donated to the the LGBTQ community.

Citing Robinson’s public tirades against the LGBTQ+ community which included comments in June at Asbury Baptist Church in Seagrove; “There’s no reason anybody anywhere in America should be telling any child about transgenderism, homosexuality, any of that filth,” Robinson said. “Yes, I called it filth. And if you don’t like it that I called it filth, come see me and I’ll explain it to you.” The campaign hopes to raise awareness and funds for the LGBTQ+ community.

Announcing the launch of the ” Don’t Be Mean to People ” campaign, the brewery noted on the campaign’s webpage; “The Lt. Governor said some not very nice things. But Don’t Be Mean to People believes in the goodness of everyone. So we know in his heart he doesn’t believe other North Carolinians are “filth.” We’re so sure of it, we’re helping to fund the good work that could be his greatest act in public office.”

“That’s right — a portion of profits from every pint of Don’t Be Mean To People will go to help the LGBTQ community grow, thrive, and find acceptance. All in the name of his illustrious title,” the campaign added.

His categorizing the LGBTQ+ community as ‘filth’ brought swift condemnation from local, state, and national politicians, progressive groups and LGBTQ+ organizations including the White House. Deputy White House Press Secretary Andrew Bates said that the Biden Administration condemned the remarks made by Robinson.

“These words are repugnant and offensive,” said Bates, who is a native of North Carolina. “The role of a leader is to bring people together and stand up for the dignity and rights of everyone; not to spread hate and undermine their own office.”

Last month, speaking to parishioners at the Berean Baptist Church in Winston-Salem on Sunday, November 14,  Robinson questioned the “purpose” of being gay; said heterosexual couples are “superior” to gay couples; and that he didn’t want to explain to his grandchildren why two men are kissing if they see that on television the Charlotte Observer reported.

The state’s Republican Lt. Governor then went on to compare being gay to “what the cows leave behind” as well as maggots and flies.

Ponysaurus owners Nick Hawthorne-Johnson and David Baldwin posted a video on Instagram saying they would like to speak with Robinson about his comments.

“Stop by Ponysaurus anytime and let’s talk about it over a beer,” Hawthorne-Johnson says.

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