In the three or so years since transitioning from the canceled radio show/failed podcast plane and into the realm of online news, the Rant has frequently been critical, both directly and indirectly, of the Sanford Herald.

Some of it has been in good fun, and at other times we’ve just felt like calling attention to missteps in reporting or confusing business practices by the paper’s parent company would benefit the public. We’ve tried to keep our critiques from being personal (hey, we’ve literally been in their shoes and know what it’s like), but we also understand that nobody really likes their frequent critics all that much.

Basically, we’re saying we get it if the folks at the Sanford Herald aren’t super fond of the Rant.

So that’s why we felt it was important to say this today: The Sanford Herald’s reporting in the wake of our piece on Sherry-Lynn Womack’s 2011 arrest is really, really excellent.

The story is behind a paywall, but here’s a quick summary of the important points:

*Womack at first denied being the Sherry Lynn Womack in the arrest report before her husband – Lee County GOP chairman and former Lee County Commissioner Jim Womack – arrived at the Herald’s offices to confirm that yes, she was, in fact, served by Lee County sheriff’s deputies with a warrant in 2011 for a breaking and entering case that was alleged to have taken place in Buncombe County.

*Jim Womack told the Herald that the charges were eventually dropped in Buncombe County and that the couple had the charges expunged, meaning all records of the case were ordered destroyed (the story doesn’t say whether either of the Womacks were asked to provide a copy of the expungement papers).

*Sherry-Lynn Womack gave a prepared statement to the Herald saying the report was “illegally obtained” and threatened “criminal and civil remedies for all who are trafficking it.” 

*Later, an attorney representing the family appeared to threaten the newspaper with a lawsuit for slander if it moved forward with publication.

*The First Amendment to the United States Constitution means it was okay for the Herald (or the Rant) to publish the arrest report.

We applaud the Herald for not caving in the face of this kind of pressure and reporting the news as they saw it. Great work.

A screenshot from the “Sanford-Lee County Truth Seekers” Facebook group, which makes Ronald Reagan look like Malcolm X.

Meanwhile, Sherry-Lynn Womack continues to make noise about “FAKE NEWS” and “slander” (she probably means libel, as slander is spoken while libel is printed [although in either case, the thing being spoken or printed has to be untrue, so … LPH]) on a local right wing Facebook page, where her fans continue to deny that the report is real, that as of Thursday at least it was still available for legal, public disclosure in Lee County, or that it is meaningful in any way.

But it is meaningful. We’re glad that the Herald got both Womacks on the record, first denying the report’s veracity and then confirming it. We’re glad the Herald got the Womacks to confirm the charge was dismissed and later, apparently expunged. We’re glad to have more information about one of our elected officials and her interaction with the criminal justice system. We’re glad that the public gets to see that the Womacks’ reaction to the disclosure of this information – threats of legal action, claims that others are acting illegally – falls far short of accepting responsibility or showing any kind of humility.

We’ve been critical as well of Sherry-Lynn’s husband Jim on this blog, noting his fluid position on environmental issues, his attempts to stop the public from having a say on fracking, and his tasteful, respectful approach to describing his political opponents. Also important to the story of his wife’s arrest is the fact that he apparently attempted to use his position to dissuade a law enforcement officer from performing his job. We’d love to see the Herald ask the Womacks about that.

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