@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

McCrory looks to remove elections board member

Posted July 15, 2015

SBOE member Paul Foley was absent from a state board meeting the day Gov. Pat McCrory called for him to step down from the panel.

— Gov. Pat McCrory is calling on Paul Foley to step down from the State Board of Elections following disclosures he pressed for details in an investigation that involved one of his law firm's clients.

"I do not believe it is appropriate for the Governor to ask a member of an independent board with ongoing oversight authority over him to resign. I did nothing wrong and, therefore, there is no reason to resign," Foley said via email Wednesday afternoon.

Members of the State Board of Elections do not serve at the pleasure of the governor, so McCrory cannot remove him by fiat.

"Gov. McCrory will be taking appropriate action by statute to remove him form the board," said McCrory Communication Director Josh Ellis. "The governor did this because of serious issues involving his conduct as a board member."

Foley is a Winston-Salem lawyer and, like the governor, a Republican. McCrory says he will rely on statutes that allow him to remove a board member for cause. In this case, McCrory says, Foley has created at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.

The board met in Raleigh Wednesday to hear a report on a case involving donations from video sweepstakes gambling companies to the campaigns of North Carolina politicians, including McCrory. That investigation stemmed from a 2013 complaint by Democracy North Carolina and involved the sweepstakes company IIT and its owner, Chase Burns.

According to a report released by the Attorney General's Office earlier this month, Foley officially recused himself from the investigation but frequently pressured state board investigators for updates and early copies of the report at the same time his firm represented Burns and IIT.

"I never attempted to, and hand no reason to, influence the outcome of the investigation," Foley said in a brief statement read by telephone at the beginning of Wednesday's board meeting.

Foley was out of town for business and did not participate in the part of the meeting dealing with the sweepstakes investigation.

Campaign records show that Foley helped raise money for McCrory during the 2012 gubernatorial campaign.

Board of Elections Chairman Josh Howard referred questions about whether Foley should step down to the board's spokesman, who had no comment directly on the governor's demand.

Earlier in the day, both Howard, a Republican, and Josh Malcolm, a Democratic board member, said they believe the board handled the Foley matter correctly and that they prevented an individual issue from becoming and larger problem for the board.

It was Howard and Malcolm who called in the Attorney General's Office, which found that Foley had not influenced the outcome of the video sweepstakes investigation.

"It produced no taint and had no impact," Howard said after the meeting concluded.

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