Local Politics

Ethics Committee to Proceed Against Wright

Posted December 12, 2007

Map Marker  Find News Near Me

— State lawmakers said Wednesday that they plan to proceed with ethics hearings for an indicted Wilmington legislator.

State Rep. Thomas Wright, D-New Hanover, was indicted Monday on five counts of obtaining property by false pretense and one count of obstruction of justice in connection with unreported campaign contributions and two allegedly fraudulent loans.

Wright has been unavailable for comment since a Wake County grand jury returned the indictments. He previously said he had no intention of stepping down, saying voters should decide whether he remains in office.

House Speaker Joe Hackney on Tuesday requested that the Legislative Ethics Committee finish its investigation into Wright's activities. The committee had suspended its inquiry at the request of Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby so as not to jeopardize the criminal investigation.

Committee leaders announced Wednesday that they had collected enough evidence against Wright to hold hearings, which likely would be scheduled for February.

"We have authority to judge our own members, and when allegations which are this serious come to our attention, we have the obligation to investigate," Hackney said.

The ethics committee will review one fraud charge against Wright alleging that he used his position to influence a state official to write a letter to help him obtain a $150,000 for a real estate deal in Wilmington.

The committee said none of the other allegations against Wright fell within its purview because they didn't occur in the course of Wright's duties as a lawmaker. Those allegations include accepting $185,000 in unreported campaign donations and diverting almost $19,000 in contributions and loans into his personal accounts when they were supposed to go into a fund he directs.

Hackney said a special committee would be appointed to consider those charges.

The hearings could lead to lawmakers voting in a special session of the General Assembly next spring to remove Wright from office, which would mark the first time in more than a century that legislators expelled a member.

22 Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • whatusay Dec 13, 2007

    We will never see term limits unless the people of this state get to vote on setting limits. That will not happen because the state (they) won't allow it. Once elected they just sit back and watch their wealth grow...living expenses, health insurance, pension.

  • dlb800 Dec 13, 2007

    I think if we really want honest politicians, we need to weed
    out those who are politicians just to make money and build
    power. Term limits would be great. Increasing the penalties
    for being corrupt. In my opinion, Jim Black got off extremely
    light. I would have put him in at hard labor (even at his age)
    for the rest of his life... and sieze all assets his family
    has.

  • dlb800 Dec 13, 2007

    What I find is amusing... is the people who are still going to
    vote for this crook for the next election. People can
    complain about Bush and the Republicans, but then they will
    turn around and vote for a crooked Democrat.

  • piller Dec 12, 2007

    Too many are claiming to represent 'their people' when they are only using that as a vehicle to line their own pockets as well as those of family and close friends. The worst that can happen for minority representation is minority representatives that mislead them. Resign Mr. Wright. Save the taxpayers more waste and give the minority a chance to pick someone who will represent with fairness. Otherwise the seat will be lost.

  • gbbarley Dec 12, 2007

    They would not allow my posting.Nothing derogatory just, lets clean up this state

  • howdiditgettothis Dec 12, 2007

    I agree with retired and luv it 100%.

    Limit terms, and I also say limit "benefits."

    These politicians that we elect into office receive a sizeable pension FOR LIFE, even after serving JUST 1 four year term.
    Additionally, these government employees DO NOT have to go through the same insurance WOES that the rest of US in the US do.

    Does anyone else out there get a pension FOR LIFE after 4 years on the job?

    Do you think laws would change quickly if these elitist were under the same health care as the rest of us?

    This makes me sick.

    I think corrupt politicians should serve in state prison of the roughest kind.

  • wbearp Dec 12, 2007

    It does not matter, white, black, male, female, Democrat or Republican. They are all crooks. I have been a longtime supporter of the GOP, but when it comes to ethics and integrity, all fail. It is all about the MONEY.

  • RonnieR Dec 12, 2007

    While I don't normally defend the Dems, he does deserve
    a fair trial and a conviction before he is expelled. Right
    now they are just accusations. I guess that I'm in a
    minority that still believes in innocent until proven
    gulty beyond a reasonable doubt. He has been stripped
    of his committee assignments, has zero influence and
    would not be the deciding vote in anything.

  • JohnDeereGirl Dec 12, 2007

    It's been going on for years. Look at Meg Scott, she did just what her daddy did, only she's the one that went to jail.

  • retired and luv it Dec 12, 2007

    TERM LIMITS!! People get wise and make them go away after x number years. They cannot function even if they wanted to in that crowd without being one of the boys. Break the Good Old Boys Club up and keep um moving along and they won t have time to create their dynasties that look after themselves, their croonies, and your tax dollars. TERM LIMITS!

More...