Questions raised over Alma Adams' claim she moved to Charlotte

Alma Adams' residency questioned
Published: May. 31, 2016 at 4:32 PM EDT|Updated: May. 31, 2016 at 9:45 PM EDT
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GREENSBORO, NC (WBTV) - New evidence and mounting contradictions has cast new questions over whether US Representative Alma Adams (D-12) has moved to Charlotte.

Adams announced she would move to Charlotte in March after the North Carolina General Assembly re-drew her district, which previously stretched along I-85 from Charlotte to Greensboro. The re-drawn district is contained entirely within Mecklenburg County.

Despite Adam's claim of moving to Charlotte, On Your Side Investigates has found she still spends nights at the home she owns in Greensboro and uncovered campaign finance documents that list her home address in Greensboro.

Our first attempts to get an explanation from Adams or her campaign were met with refusal. Eventually, Adams' campaign agreed to make her available for an on-camera interview that ended with her taking her microphone off and walking away.

Move to Charlotte

Adams took steps to establish residence in Charlotte following her announcement that she would relocate to the Queen City.

"I've started the process of moving to the Queen City," Adams told The Charlotte Observer in March. "My commitment to Charlotte runs deep. (It's a) commitment not of words but of deeds."

In April, Adams, who has spent decades in politics in Greensboro, registered to vote in Mecklenburg County using the address of a townhouse in Fourth Ward.

A red, white and blue ribbon hangs above an Alma Adams campaign sign in the small yard in front of the house.

But on a recent Monday, when Congress was in recess and Adams was in North Carolina, On Your Side Investigates visited the Fourth Ward house multiple times and found no one home.

Despite telling voters in Mecklenburg County she had moved and registering to vote using a Charlotte address, Adams' campaign listed a Greensboro address for her on its pre-primary campaign finance report filed in May.

"On a recent FEC filing, the Congresswoman's former address in Greensboro was inadvertently used instead of her current residence in Charlotte - an error that has been corrected with the FEC," Adams' campaign manager, Sam Spencer, said in a written statement. "The Congresswoman updated her FEC Form 2 to reflect her Charlotte address in April."

Records filed with the Federal Election Commission show the pre-primary report was amended to reflect Adams' Charlotte address the same afternoon On Your Side Investigates called with questions.

In his statement, Spencer criticized WBTV for asking why her federal campaign finance documents listed her Greensboro address.

"This misleading attack over an innocent clerical error is politics as usual and people are tired of it," Spencer said.

Weekend in Greensboro

Adams' campaign started Memorial Day by posting a video message on its Facebook page. Adams did not attend any Memorial Day events in her district.

Instead, she spent the holiday weekend at her home in Greensboro.

On Your Side Investigates visited her home Monday after getting information she spent the weekend there instead of her house in Charlotte.

Adams was not home the first time we knocked on her door but she did pull into the driveway as we sat parked along the street in front of her house.

When Adams saw us, she tried to drive into and park in her garage. When her car wouldn't fit in the garage with the door shut, she backed out of her driveway and drove away despite a reporter trying to wave her down.

Minutes later, when we saw her car parked at the entrance of her neighborhood, a reporter got out of the car and tried to talk with her a second time. Adams sped off as soon as she saw the reporter get out of the car.

In a statement, Spencer, Adams' campaign manager, said the Congresswoman had just returned from visiting her mother's grave. He did not address why Adams stayed at her house over the weekend but did say she was taking a few days of rest before "a busy week of campaigning in her district."

Adams did not directly answer the question of why she stayed in Greensboro instead of Charlotte this weekend when asked in an on-camera interview Tuesday.

"I think it's a holiday weekend and there were probably other candidates who were at other places as well," Adams said. I don't think the voters are confused about where I'm living here in Charlotte, I'm spending my time here in Charlotte, I'm working for Charlotte but I'm also, unlike the other candidates in this race, I am the current congresswoman and I represent a district that spans these six counties and, so, I'm trying to do my work and do my work
efficiently and effectively."

'Greensboro' history removed from bio

If you read Adams' biography on her campaign's website, you'd never know the now-Congresswoman spent nearly 30 years serving Guilford County residents, first on the school board, then the Greensboro City Council and then in the North Carolina House of Representatives.

Instead, the version of her biography posted on her campaign's website has been scrubbed of any reference to Adams' longtime home.

"Alma's introduction to politics was on her local school board, where she became the First African-American woman elected to that body…" the bio reads, without any mention of where that school board was. "After serving on the School Board, Alma was elected to a seat on her City Council where she led efforts for affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization programs."

A similar passage from the biography on her campaign's Facebook page, which does not appear to have been updated since she was elected to Congress, still includes references to Adams' service in Greensboro.

"Prior to her service in the General Assembly, Adams served for one term on the Greensboro City School Board where she was a strong advocate for quality education and the first African American woman elected to that body."

"In 1987 Adams was elected by the citizens of District 2 to represent North East Greensboro on the Greensboro City Council where she served until appointed to the North Carolina House."

In an interview Tuesday, Adams acknowledged the changes before, later, denying she made them.

"The district that we're running for, that will go into play on the first or the third of January, is totally in Charlotte. That makes sense to do," Adams said of removing any reference to her decades-long political career in Greensboro. "Every other candidate has done that. That is the, the new district will comprise basically all of Mecklenburg, so why would I have campaign material, running for the 12th District as it is newly configured to begin in January?"

But, minutes later, Adams changed her answer.

RAW VIDEO: Click here to see the entire Q&A with Adams over campaign bio

"It's all a matter of record where I served," Adams said.

"Except on your campaign bio. It's not a matter of record if you go to Alma Adams' campaign page," a reporter responded.

"Well I've answered your question," Adams said before staying to answer another reporter question.

"I'm not changing it. I'm not changing it," Adams insisted.

Eventually, the questions over the changes to her campaign bio stopped when she took her microphone off during the interview and went inside to a campaign forum.

"I want to talk about the issues, that's what I've tried to do and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to you," Adams said as she walked away.

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