Local Politics

Lawmaker Cannot Block Subpoena of Records

Posted June 8, 2007
Updated June 11, 2007

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— State Rep. Mary McAllister filed suit Friday against the state, seeking a court order to block a subpoena requiring her to turn over records from a nonprofit organization she heads.

The State Auditor's Office obtained a subpoena this week to examine the computer hard drives of Operation Sickle Cell, a health care counseling and testing nonprofit in Fayetteville. McAllister, D-Cumberland, is the executive director of the organization, which receives state funding.

"When organizations accept state money, they know that there's going to be increased scrutiny," said Chris Mears, a spokesman for the State Auditor's Office.

The nonprofit already is part of a State Board of Elections inquiry into McAllister's campaign finances. Questions have been raised as to whether her political activities are run out of the state sponsored group.

The State Auditor's Office had informally requested to review Operation Sickle Cell records as part of its responsibility to audit taxpayer-supported groups. McAllister complied with the request until auditors demanded access to the organization's computer records, according to her attorney, Jonathan Charleston.

Charleston said the nonprofit already has turned over all records related to state grants, and the hard drives are beyond the scope of the initial request by the State Auditor's Office. Also, private health information of clients and private e-mails of employees are contained on the hard drives, he said.

"We would hope that the state auditor would not allow this to turn into a fishing expedition, which (is where) it appears to be headed.," Charleston said. "They don't have any interest in getting to the truth. This is as political as the day is long."

McAllister sought a restraining order that would prevent the auditor's from using the subpoena to gain access to the computer hard drives. But a judge ruled that the taxpayer funded group must turn over files. Medical records would remain confidential, according to the ruling.

Mears said the incident marks the first time in a decade that the State Auditor's Office has had to use subpoena powers as part of a state audit, noting the vast majority of nonprofits comply with information requests.

"It's unfortunate that we've had to go this route," he said. "Whenever the taxpayers' money is being spent, there needs to be accountability and transparency."

54 Comments

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  • blueridgerunner Jun 13, 2007

    There's another "good ol boy" organization in the Raleigh Legislature it's called the Black Caucus. They vote as a block to get the funding they need for their particular non profit organizations and pet projects. Ask Frank Balance how he came by his funding? The problem is the Black Caucas has become a state sanctioned clearing house for acquiring easy taxpayer money with very little oversight with only marginal accountability. Because it is the NC Black Caucus it has been and is politically off limits by it's very nature. Leaving it's membership to operate under the radar to abuse taxpayer money.

    It's the 21st century and the NC Black Caucus is an antiquated political tool that has long since served it's usefulness. It's a haven for corruption. And must go.

  • supermom2 Jun 10, 2007

    If she were a republician....democrats would screaming and yelling....what do they have to hide.....so I am asking the same question....what does this woman have to hide, if nothing then turn over the records. But it becomes apparent that she does have something to hide, since she is trying to seek to not have her documents turned over. Same thing with William Jefferson....we all know he is guilty....90,000.00 in his freezer, and 10,000.00 is missing. and yes all politicians are crooked, but it is good to see the dems get their justice.

  • unbiased Jun 9, 2007

    Has anyone considered that this might be a political fishing trip as her attorney suggests? Didn't the organization provide the financial records requested? Since when is demanding Computers part of a routine review? The only allegations against this woman is that she had discrepencies on her campaign finance forms which are properly being looked at by the election board) And the other allegation is that she makes too much money. She is the FULL-TIME ex. Director of an organization that she founded over 30 years ago and has operated without incident and in fact is nationally recognized in her field. (she is a PART-TIME legislator) Her salary probably had to be approved by a board of directors and probably disclosed to the agency that provided the grant. Isn't this a private corporation (non-profit or not)? She still is entitled to due process I assume.

  • unbiased Jun 9, 2007

    TTTT

  • blueridgerunner Jun 9, 2007

    McAllister was paid a huge salary ( by my standards ) $115,0000 to be executive director of this non profit. I don't know that many people who make that kind of money working for at profit companies. And she's charged with misappropriation of funds too? Wow.

  • gopanthers Jun 9, 2007

    Something Fishy in Denmark! Guilty of something if you are fighting to avoid/turn over files. If you weren't guilty of something then what would be the problem to just turn the files over for an Audit.

  • Gatsby Jun 9, 2007

    Time for a change with the non-profits...They need to have the books open at all times for the public to see and audited bi-monthly at their expense. The system is broke if it ever gets to this point. I heard years ago that the Chairman of Goodwill live in a house bigger than the Biltmore Estate...Got any pants that are to small?

  • seankelly15 Jun 9, 2007

    southern wisdom - it doesn't matter how much deleting is going on, the files can be recovered. Plus, she has just admitted to a Federal offense by stating that she cannot turn over the hard drive because there is 'private health information' stored on the hard drive.

  • Tax Man Jun 9, 2007

    FragmentFour -at- aol -dot- com - I agree that private, personal medical records of patients should not be available to the general public - but an auditor has the duty to review all relevant data and if any funds were expended for the treatment, care, counseling, education of any patient, then the auditor has every right, and is required, to review the patient records. The auditors are sworn to secrecy so there is no unauthorized disclosure under federal or state law. It appears that non-profit and campaign laws have been violated here and the authorities are entitled to see what is going on. If Mary McAllister wants to use state and federal grant money for this organization, she MUST provide full disclosure to the auditors! There is no privilege and no legal exception. If you review the Frank Ballance foundation case you will see how far the government can go to look into the records. She needs to give it up.

  • fbell Jun 9, 2007

    Nice job of reporting and backup information/documentation.

    As one genius said, Non proifts are FOR PROFITS for someone.
    I don't think a member of s legislature, , who can vote for taxpayers budget use, be able to benefit from that power by being an officer on a state sponsored "non-profit"--no matter what the good cause of the non-profit is.

    NC Viking

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