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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

Courts decline to block Marcia Morgan's ads in tough Senate 7 race against Michael Lee

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A superior court judge declined State Senator Michael Lee’s request for an emergency injunction to block Marcia Morgan’s campaign ads from airing. The underlying complaint of defamation will still to proceed to trial, as of now.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from Marcia Morgan's campaign.

Lee filed the complaint earlier this week, claiming that his Democratic challenger was running false and defamatory ads.

Morgan’s ads accused Lee of having used his political office to secure beneficial land-use decisions for his real estate clients. Specifically, the ads accused Lee of securing City of Wilmington approval for The Avenue, a major mixed-use development on Military Cutoff in 2018 — over the objection of city planners.

City staff did express concerns about the project, including traffic issues. However, Mayor Bill Saffo later issued a public statement categorically denying that Lee used his political position to influence the city’s decision.

Superior Court Judge Phyllis Gorham ruled that Lee’s defamation claims can go forward to a trial. While she did not agree to grant an immediate injunction to stop the ads, Morgan’s attorney told the court the ads would be discontinued as of today, according to Lee's campaign.

Earlier this week, her campaign issued a statement saying she stood by the claims in her advertisements and was prepared to defend them in court.

Thursday evening, Morgan’s campaign issued another statement:

"I am pleased that the court has seen Mr. Lee’s request for an injunction for what it is, a political stunt. While he may not want the facts out there, the voters of New Hanover County deserve to know who is representing them in Raleigh when they go to the polls next month. I stand behind the facts of my ad and look forward to defending those facts in court as this lawsuit moves through the legal channels."