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North Carolina gubernatorial candidate wants public safety funding but voted against it

Republican former Rep. Mark Walker complained about efforts to defund the police, but didn’t vote for laws that included funding for state and local public safety.

By Josh Israel - June 01, 2023
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Mark Walker speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Mark Walker speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Republican former Rep. Mark Walker is seeking his party’s nomination for North Carolina governor in 2024 on a platform that includes more funding for public safety. During his three terms in Congress, however, Walker repeatedly voted against legislation that contained money for state and local law enforcement.

Walker, an anti-LGBTQ+ former Southern Baptist pastor with a history of making misogynist and Islamophobic comments, ran in the 2022 Republican primary for an open Senate seat. He received about 9% of the vote, losing to Rep. Ted Budd. He is now running in a competitive gubernatorial primary against Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and State Treasurer Dale Folwell.

During Walker’s May 22 appearance on radio station WBT in Charlotte, host Brett Winterble asked, “How would you want to approach the border and the impact on North Carolina taxpayers?”

“The best way, Brett, to push back against the border issues that are impacting North Carolina is making sure our law enforcement has the resources and the staffing,” Walker responded.

In the “Why I’m Running” section of his campaign website, Walker says: “Our law enforcement departments across the state are on life support hemorrhaging for lack of support and resources. We can’t allow this to happen in North Carolina, we won’t let this happen in North Carolina.”

Walker has repeatedly attacked efforts to reduce police funding and falsely claimed Democrats like President Joe Biden, who has called for increased police funding, want to defund the police. “Defund liberal politicians, not the police,” he tweeted in July 2021, sharing a chart attributed to the National Fraternal Order of Police and Fox News that showed rising levels of violent crime in six cities that year.

A Walker campaign spokesperson did not immediately respond to an inquiry for this story.

During his time in the House, Walker voted against several bipartisan spending agreements that included federal funding for public safety.

He voted against a February 2019 appropriations law containing $1.7 billion in funding for for state and local law enforcement and $303 million for grants through the Community Oriented Policing Services programs.

In February 2018, Walker opposed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, which contained $6 billion to help address opioid addiction through prevention programs, law enforcement, and mental health programs.

That March, he voted against an appropriations law that included another $275 million for community policing and more than $1.6 billion in funding for state and local law enforcement.

Walker also opposed a 2015 appropriations package that extended until 2090 health benefits for police officers, firefighters, and others who responded to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

Despite his stated opposition to efforts to defund police, Walker voted for the No Sanctuary for Criminals Act in June 2017. That bill, which passed the GOP-controlled House but died in the Senate, would have denied federal funding to sanctuary cities that opt not to use local law enforcement to help the federal government enforce immigration laws.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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