City Council candidate John Miner said his former landlord threatened to “destroy your campaign.” The landlord says, “That’s a lie.”
Fayetteville City Council candidate John Miner told a community forum on Saturday morning that a former landlord threatened to “destroy your campaign” if Miner didn’t pay him $6,000.
The former landlord, church pastor Garry Murray, fiercely disputes Miner’s allegation. “He’s a liar,” Murray said in an interview Saturday afternoon.
The forum was presented by the Cumberland County Citizens United community group at Galatia Presbyterian Church in west Fayetteville. Candidates running for District 6, 7 and 8 appeared. Miner is attempting to unseat incumbent Ted Mohn in the western Fayetteville District 8 race.
Miner’s extortion allegation emerged during intense questioning from audience member Dave Wilson of Fayetteville about Miner’s legal troubles.
“Have you entered into any kind of lease agreement with anybody and failed to pay them, and had court orders to pay them, and failed to do that?” Wilson asked.
“Yes, I have,” Miner said.
Miner, who leads Empact International church in Fayetteville, said the litigation and alleged extortion attempt stem from a conflict with the rental of a church building from Murray.
The church building proved to be unusable, Miner said, because the front entrance was blocked. He vacated the property, he said, and asked Murray to apply the security deposit to the last month of rent.
This was in early 2014, according to court records.
Murray sued Miner in Small Claims Court in late 2015 seeking nearly $6,200. This included $4,500 for six months of unpaid rent, $1,319 for liability insurance, $250 in cleaning costs and $126 in court costs.
On Jan. 7, 2016, a magistrate ruled that Miner owed only a month of rent plus court costs and fees — $750 plus $189.05.
The judgment remains unpaid, Murray said. With interest of 16 cents per day, it now exceeds $1,000.
Miner said the security deposit was supposed to cover judgment; Murray said he does not recall that there was a security deposit.
Miner told the forum on Saturday that Murray called him several weeks ago.
Murray said it’s accurate that he called Miner but that Miner’s rendition of the conversation to the audience at the forum was inaccurate.
Miner told the audience that Murray told him, “Well here’s the thing: I want my $6,000 or I’ll destroy your campaign.”
“That’s a lie,” Murray said later Saturday.
Miner said he told Murray the court limited the judgment to one month of rent and fees and it was supposed to be paid with the security deposit. He said Murray responded, “I don’t care what the judge said. I want my $6,000 because the people of Fayetteville would not like to vote for someone who has a debt.”
Murray vehemently denied Miner’s statement.
“That’s a lie. I never said that. Not once,” Murray said.
Wilson, the Fayetteville resident who questioned Miner about Murray’s lawsuit, followed up with questions about a bounced check and other “interactions with the court” in the past five years.
“That’s one of the reasons why I’m running for City Council,” Miner said. “Because I’m a regular person like everybody else.” People don’t have to be perfect to run, he said.
Miner said his church had a $60 bounced check, which he paid. And he had a speeding ticket from “me trying to get someone back to Spring Lake before the water department closed so they could get water turned on for their child and themselves.”
Staff writer Paul Woolverton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, 910-486-3512 and 910-261-4710.