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BY PHILLIP WILLIAMS/Corrrespondent
GILMER–Upshur County Pct. 4 Commissioner Mike Spencer on Wednesday denied an allegation by Upshur County District Clerk Karen Bunn that he committed misdemeanor assault against her during a verbal dispute they had near Gilmer Monday night.
Upshur County Sheriff Larry Webb said in a press release Wednesday that Bunn on Tuesday reported “an allegation of assault” against Spencer, which “concerns offensive contact against her during the course of a verbal dispute between the two people after a public meeting they both attended on October 23. No physical injury is alleged.”
“The sheriff’s office will investigate the allegation and turn its findings over to the Upshur County district attorney, Billy Byrd,” Webb’s statement concluded.
Spencer and Bunn had atttended a meeting of the Cherokee Rose Republican Women on Monday night at the Lantana Activity Center outside Gilmer. Bunn, who is seeking re-election, spoke at the gathering and Spencer, who is not seeking re-election but considering running for county judge, was in the audience He participated in a question-and-answer session after Bunn’s speech..
In a phone interview with The Mirror on Wednesday, Bunn said Spencer poked her in the chest three times after he took offense to a discussion during the meeting about her statement that the computer software in her office would not provide a decimal on numbers. The county commissioners chose the software for her office.
“Mike approached me inside the building and said ‘So you’re going to sell me down the river for a decimal in your software system.’ When she did not reply, the district clerk said, “He kept saying ‘Let’s take it outside’. . .and I have witnesses to that. It was like he was wanting to fight.”
Outside, as she tried to leave, “He was in my face, screaming at me, calling me a liar. . .I was trying to get away from him,” Bunn said. She said she told Spencer, “You don’t disrespect any woman like this.”
After that, Bunn continued, the commissioner “went stomping. . .throwing a fit” and saying “Come on.”
“At my car, he was poking me in the chest, calling me a liar,” she added.
Bunn also said she had probably five witnesses who were being interviewed by law enforcement officers.
“I was so calm in trying to get him out of my face” although “he did assault me” by poking her chest. “I was in a state of shock. I never expected this out of someone who is elected as a commissioner to go into this rage.”
Bunn also said Spencer had verbally attacked her at a commissioners court meeting because she would not seek a retraction of an area newspaper’s statement which described a meeting of the court as a “circus.” Bunn said a reporter, not her, characterized the meeting that way.
In a phone interview with The Mirror on Wednesday, Spencer said he heard that Bunn alleged he poked her in the chest three times. “And that is not true, but we did have a verbal debate over the truthfulness of Ms. Bunn,” said Spencer, who declined to elaborate.
“I deny the allegations of any physical contact and when this matter is resolved, we’ll be looking into options of possibly a defamation of character suit,” added Spencer, who has been precinct four commissioner for six years.
He additionally said that “I welcome a very thorough investigation of this incident and I feel that my truthfulness and integrity will prevail (when) false accusations are made. We will welcome the truth to come out and at the end of this investigation, we will search out many options for a final resolution to prove integrity and truthfulness.”
Spencer said no formal charges have been filed against him and that the accusation is a class C misdemeanor, which is “like a speeding ticket” and thus would not result in an arrest. (Webb said Bunn filed a “complaint” and that any allegation in the matter would be a class C misdemeanor. He confirmed Spencer would not be arrested since no law officer was present when the alleged incident occurred).
Spencer said he learned of the accusation Wednesday morning when Webb phoned him after one of the commissioner’s sons underwent an emergency appendectomy Tuesday and “my reaction was silence ’cause I really didn’t have any idea (he would be accused) . . .Welcome to Upshur County politics.”