09/29/11 — George Holding offers glimpse of beliefs, plans for Congress

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George Holding offers glimpse of beliefs, plans for Congress

By Ty Johnson
Published in News on September 29, 2011 1:46 PM

When it came to scheduling a site for his first public meeting with the residents of Wayne County since he announced his candidacy for a congressional seat, George Holding said it wasn't much of a challenge.

"Wilber's made me the man I am today," he joked, grabbing his midriff.

Holding made his intentions to run for the newly created 13th district public July 13 and brought his political message to a room of about 40 Wednesday afternoon, including Rep. Efton Sager, Sen. Louis Pate and District 4 County Commissioner Steve Keen.

Holding told the crowd that constituent services would be a large part of his platform if elected, and that his first action would be to set up his district office in Wayne County.

"I'm not going to Washington to become a politician," he said, adding he won't take any money from political action committees during his campaign because even if there is no foul play, the acceptance of money still makes it appear that politicians may be influenced by those groups.

"I won't catch what they call Potomac fever," he said, citing a euphemism implying that public servants, when exposed to the politician lifestyle in Washington, often forget the constituents they are there to represent.

Holding said he has no problem commuting to Washington as he used to make the trip while working as a United States Attorney. The capital city, he said, is 264 miles from his front door.

He said his decision to run for Congress in a time when nearly nine out of every 10 Americans disapprove of the legislative body's work can be traced back to 1997 when a men's Bible study he attended changed his life.

"I decided I wanted to make a difference instead of money," he said.

He then rejoined the late Sen. Jesse Helms -- he spent a semester away from college in the late 1980s to work for Helms -- working on tax issues before he began working for the U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of North Carolina in 2002. While with the office, he was involved in the prosecution of many high-profile corruption cases, including former House Speaker Jim Black and former Gov. Mike Easley. He became first in charge at the district in September 2006.

The Easley case was a topic that was mentioned during the question-and-answer period, as residents fired off questions about everything from religion and the national debt to concerns about the state's department of environment and natural resources.

He said he didn't think the Congressional supercommittee will have much of an influence on the country's economic direction and spoke out on concerns he focused on as a lawyer, particularly child pornography.

He identified the 2012 election as the most important election in his and his constituents' lifetimes, identifying a reduction of the national debt, which he said hung like a big, black cloud over the economy, as the best way to get businesses back in hiring mode.

He listed rewriting the tax code or getting rid of the Department of Energy as options to increase business investment, saying although he wasn't sure what the best option would be, he knew that uncertainty over taxes wasn't spurring investment, citing the stockpiling cash by businesses across the nation due to uncertain economic times and complicated tax codes.

During the question-and-answer period and following the event, he spoke about how liberals have convoluted the meaning of the separation of church and state and invested more money than opponents into winning lawsuits to limit prayers in public spaces. He also addressed a member of the area's tea party movement and made tentative plans to speak to the group at a future event.

"I think the tea party is the best thing to happen to conservatives since Ronald Reagan," he said. "It's energizing people and getting people to read the Constitution and engaging them in political discourse."

He also spoke out about another issue he identified during his address: term limits for members of Congress. He said that many of the issues facing Congress are further complicated by the constant re-election campaigns of career politicians. He said individuals shouldn't go to Washington to have careers.

"It's September of 2011 and they're worried about what's going to look good in 2012," he said.

He said he would like to see a four-term limit for members of the House of Representatives and a two-term limit for senators.

When asked about his former employer, Helms, who spent five terms as a U.S. Senator from 1973 until 2003, he pointed out that Helms had already had a full career in journalism ahead of his public service career. Helms was 51 when he began his candidacy for Congress.

"He did a great deal of good the entire 30 years he was in there and I'm glad he was," Holding said.

Following the forum, he said his experience as an attorney had prepared him to take a practical approach to legislation.

"It's the way you make decisions, depending on constitution, law and facts," he said. "You're not influenced by public opinion."