Post Office Naming Sparks Feud in North Carolina

G.K. Butterfield says 2 GOP congressmen are retaliating over Jesse Helms snub

Rep. G.K. Butterfield said two of his fellow North Carolina congressmen are retaliating against him over naming buildings in their home state. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Rep. G.K. Butterfield said two of his fellow North Carolina congressmen are retaliating against him over naming buildings in their home state. (Al Drago/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
Posted August 1, 2017 at 2:37pm

Bills intending to rename post offices and other federal buildings routinely make their way through the House — but one is causing a rift among the North Carolina congressional delegation.

Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield told The (Durham) Herald Sun that two of his Republican colleagues are refusing to sign on to a bill he introduced that would rename a federal building after a civil rights leader in retaliation for his not supporting a bill that would rename a building after former North Carolina Republican Sen. Jesse Helms.

“Eight of the (state’s) 10 Republicans were willing to sign on as cosponsors, but I had pushback from two,” Butterfield told the newspaper. “That was surprising and disappointing.”

Butterfield wants to rename a post office and federal courthouse building after his late mentor John Hervey Wheeler, a North Carolina lawyer, banker and civil rights leader.

The two congressmen who are not signed on as co-sponsors of Butterfield’s bill are Reps. George Holding and Robert Pittenger.

Butterfield told the newspaper the two lawmakers won’t sign on to the bill because he refused to sign a bill to name a different federal building in North Carolina after the controversial Helms.

“Senator Jesse Helms was repugnant,” Butterfield said. “He demonstrated racist behavior and imposed on North Carolina an image that we have yet to recover from.”

Pittenger’s office deferred questions to Holdings’ office because the building at the center of Butterfield’s bill is in his district. An email sent to Holding’s office was not immediately returned.