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AVL Watchdog

Cawthorn Falsely Says Democrats Paid Capitol Rioters

In the middle of the siege of the Capitol on Jan. 6, while a mob of insurrectionists still roamed the halls and ransacked offices, leaving five dead and dozens injured, Madison Cawthorn called a friendly conservative radio host and blamed the violence on left-wing agitators sent by “the Democratic machine” to make President Trump look bad. 

“I believe that this was agitators strategically placed inside of this group — you can call them antifa, you can call them people paid by the Democratic machine — but to make the Trump campaign, the Trump movement, look bad. And to make this look like it was a violent outrage, when really the battle was being fought by people like myself and other great patriots who are standing up against the establishment and standing up against this tyranny that we see in our country.”

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Nonprofit Mission Made Lots of Profits. Especially for Bosses.

For a hospital system organized as a not-for-profit charity, Mission Health made a lot of profits.

The money left over after Asheville-based Mission subtracted its expenses from its revenue — what would be called profit at a for-profit hospital — grew year after year, right up to 2018, when Mission’s directors surprised nearly everyone by announcing plans to sell out to Tennessee-based HCA Healthcare, the nation’s biggest chain of for-profit hospitals.

Mission at the time was as strong financially as it had ever been, which Mission’s executives said made it the perfect time to sell. They cited trends and studies suggesting that the Mission system faced a bleak future of relentless cost-cutting.

The cost-cutting apparently didn’t include the paychecks of Mission executives, which grew for years untouched by the financial scalpel.

Tax records examined by Asheville Watchdog reveal that in the decade leading up to the $1.5 billion sale of Asheville’s community-owned hospital system,

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Billy Graham’s Legacy Threatened by Family Split

For the Rev. Franklin Graham, the scathing editorial in Christianity Today last year calling his friend Donald Trump “a leader of grossly immoral character” and urging that Trump be “removed from office” was heretical.

To Graham, it was bad enough to read such an attack on Trump. But the insult was compounded by the fact that Christianity Today had been founded by his recently deceased father, Billy Graham, the revered evangelist often called America’s Pastor. So Franklin fired back at the magazine with a powerful riposte to his millions of social-media followers:

I hadn’t shared who my father @BillyGraham voted for in 2016 but because of @CTMagazine’s article, I felt it necessary share now. My father knew [Trump], believed in him & voted for him. He believed Donald J. Trump was the man for this hour in the history for our nation.

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Mission sale: Good for WNC, or just HCA?

Years from now, the decision in 2018 by the directors of Mission Health to sell to HCA Healthcare might be seen as a brilliant strategic maneuver, one that guaranteed affordable, high-quality healthcare for future generations of western North Carolinians. This was, and still is, the position of the directors and executives who pushed the deal.

In return for giving up its independence, local control, and century-long legacy as a nonprofit providing quality care for the benefit of local residents, Mission accepted a $1.5 billion offer from HCA, the biggest hospital chain in the country. As a public company, HCA is required by law to prioritize profit-making for its shareholders.

The money from the sale was designated to fund a new nonprofit, the Asheville-based Dogwood Health Trust. Based on the relatively small population of the 18-county mountain region it serves, Dogwood overnight became not just the richest per capita health-related endowment in North Carolina,

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Attack by Madison Cawthorn’s schoolmates goes viral

A scathing public letter signed by more than 150 of Madison Cawthorn’s former schoolmates at Patrick Henry College alleges that the Republican candidate engaged in “sexually predatory behavior,” vandalism and lying as a student and is unfit for congress or as a representative of the conservative Christian school.

The letter, in the form of an online petition, was posted over the weekend by alumni who said they knew Cawthorn during the 2016-2017 academic year. He dropped out before the end of his second semester and didn’t return.  

Within hours of the letter’s release October 17, the number of Patrick Henry College alumni signers exploded, from 10 to 150 by midweek.  Many of the signers also recounted on social media their personal experiences with Cawthorn during that period, including several who alleged that they were victims of his sexual misconduct or had learned of it from other alleged victims at the time.

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A Done Deal: How Mission Health Wooed HCA

The news stunned Asheville and Western North Carolina, where Mission Health System Inc. was the area’s largest employer, its main healthcare provider, and a long-time source of civic pride. Seemingly out of the blue, Mission’s directors publicly announced on March 21, 2018, that they had voted to sell the 133-year-old nonprofit to HCA Healthcare, the nation’s largest for-profit hospital chain, for an estimated $1.5 billion.

“To say that [Mission’s] announcement … was a surprise would be an understatement,” the Asheville Citizen Times observed in an editorial. “There has not been the slightest hint anything was afoot until Mission announced that its board had approved the deal unanimously.”

Coming Thursday: A smaller, less-profitable nonprofit hospital system in North Carolina sells for $2 billion, plus $3.1 billion in additional commitments — more than double what Mission negotiated with HCA. 

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Equity Advocates Resign Amid Racial Reckoning

The CEO of the YWCA of Asheville has quit, becoming the second Black woman in a month to leave a high-profile job with a mission of improving racial equity in the city.

Libby Kyles resigned Sept. 18, a little more than a year after being selected to run the century-old women’s organization whose primary role is racial justice.

Her departure follows the resignation of Kimberlee Archie, the city’s first  equity and inclusion manager, who left in August.

Kyles, an Asheville native and former teacher, declined to comment. YWCA spokeswoman Catalina Slater said the resignation, submitted late on a Friday afternoon, came as a surprise.

“She’s a hard worker, puts a lot of love into her mission,” Slater said. “And she’s co-founder/leader of the recently formed Black Asheville Demands and vice chair of the board of directors at Peak Academy,” a charter school for disadvantaged children.

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Cawthorn video hits Davis’ record as Guantanamo prosecutor

In the western North Carolina congressional campaign already notable for its bare-knuckled ferocity, GOP candidate Madison Cawthorn’s latest attack video against Democrat Morris (Moe) Davis stands out: TERRORIST DEFENDER, the video proclaims in bold text and shock-inducing graphics. 

“Moe Davis’ record shows he’s no patriot,” reads the text. 

His actions against America make him unfit to serve,” it continues.

 Then this: “Moe Davis has sided with foreign enemies over our own country numerous times.”

Cawthorn’s accusations brand Davis a traitor, the worst accusation that could be leveled at any veteran military officer. Davis, 62, is a retired Air Force colonel and decorated military lawyer whose 25 years of service culminated as the chief prosecutor of alleged al-Qaeda combatants imprisoned at the U.S. Navy Base at Guantanamo, Cuba. 

The 25-year-old Republican candidate making the accusation,

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Tweet Storm: Candidate Attacks with Expletives, Vulgarity

Editor’s Note: This story contains graphic images and expletives, reflecting the verbatim language used by the candidate.

Moe Davis has urged Democrats to stomp on the necks of certain Republicans, called Donald Trump the “dumbest f*cking president in history” and described GOP senators currying favor with the president in vulgar, graphic terms. 

Just before Christmas, he tweeted that Trump had turned evangelicals into “a klan of un-Christlike hypocrites who betray everything Jesus stood for.” Earlier, he wrote, “you can’t be for @realDonaldTrump and for Jesus.”

The retired Air Force colonel and Democrat running for the 11th district congressional seat is a prolific social media poster. His Twitter account, @ColMorrisDavis, has more than 161,000 followers and nearly 92,000 tweets, many of them strongly defending democratic principles and positions.

But they also include expletive-laced,

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Debate Fact-Checker: Zingers, Jabs and Lies

In their first public face-off, the candidates vying for the increasingly competitive 11th district congressional seat, Republican Madison Cawthorn and Democrat Moe Davis, touted their differences on just about all issues and hurled accusations, with each calling the other “fast and loose” with the facts. Who was telling the truth? AVL Watchdog fact-checked some of the claims made at the Sept. 4-5 debates at Western Carolina University and rated them as true, false or misleading.

TOPIC: Welfare

THE CLAIM: In the first debate (at 1:17:08), Davis accused Cawthorn of wanting “to end welfare to balance the budget because it encourages single women, particularly minority women to have more babies so they get bigger checks.”

FACT-CHECK: We find this claim to be TRUE.

At a May 21 meeting at the Cherokee County Republican Party,

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