By Gordon Anderson |

Lee County Republican Party Chairman Jim Womack on Monday night gave members of the Board of Commissioners a private photo of school board member Patrick Kelly engaged in sexual bondage activity and asked members to request the Lee County Board of Education conduct an investigation into Kelly similar to the one conducted on Womack’s wife in January and February.

The Rant has viewed the photo but will not publish it because it depicts legal activity between consenting adults in a private setting. Further, a second individual in the photo cannot be identified.

The photo has been circulated via email – including to members of the school board – in recent weeks by a number of conservative activists, including John Zumwalt, a Moore County radio show host who challenged Republican state Rep. Jamie Boles of Whispering Pines in the 2016 GOP primary, and at least one of the Sanford men who was charged in connection with the January Capitol siege in Washington, D.C.

Womack cited Zumwalt in his remarks to the Board of Commissioners (see video here; Womack’s comment begins at the 40:50 mark), and The Rant was sent an email about the photo by one of the men arrested in D.C.

Womack, who noted he was speaking not as GOP chairman but as “a private citizen,” said in his statement Monday night that Kelly should resign if it was determined that he was “guilty” of “behavior” that is legal.

A request to the Lee County Board of Education for email traffic regarding the photo to and from its members was acknowledged Monday, but had not been fulfilled as of this writing.

Kelly provided a written statement to The Rant indicating that he intended for the photo to remain private, and that his personal life had no bearing on his abilities as a board member.

“There is a photo of me circulating that shows two single consenting adults engaged in a perfectly legal activity. The photo was intended to be private, and I would have preferred that it remained private. This entire ordeal has caused an enormous amount of pain to me and my family. No one deserves to have their private life put on display like this,” he said. “Those who are attempting to use the photo to further a political goal have created a distraction for the Lee County Board of Education during a time when we desperately need to focus on safely reopening our schools. It is regrettable that there are those who are willing to invade someone’s privacy, and I hope that we can move past this quickly. There is work to be done, and we need to get back to it.”

“In closing, let me be clear,” he continued. “My personal sex life has no bearing on my ability to perform my duties as a member of the Board of Education. I love Lee County, and I have dedicated my life to serving this community. I have proudly served on the Lee County Board of Education for nearly five years, two of them as the Chairman. I have also served on the boards of at least a dozen other non-profit organizations. Throughout all of that, my sexuality wasn’t an issue. And it shouldn’t be an issue now.”

The Rant has learned that Kelly’s attorney, Jon Silverman, has sent cease and desist letters to a number of people who have reportedly trafficked the photo.

The Lee County Board of Commissioners has no statutory authority to force an investigation by the school board on any matter, although there is nothing stopping that body from making a request. A meeting of the Lee County Board of Education is set for tonight, although the agenda currently doesn’t show any planned discussion related to the issue.