Local Politics

Wright Tries to Halt Ethics Hearing

Posted February 27, 2008

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— An embattled state lawmaker filed court papers Wednesday in a bid to prevent his ethics hearing, which is scheduled for next week.

State Rep. Thomas Wright, D-New Hanover, faces ethical misconduct allegations in connection with his handling of more than $350,000 in campaign donations, loans and charitable money.

The Legislative Ethics Committee plans to begin hearings into the allegations Monday. Those could lead to a vote in the General Assembly to censure or expel Wright.

Wright also has been indicted on five counts of obtaining property by false pretense and one count of obstruction of justice. The charges stem from:

  • $185,000 in campaign donations authorities said weren't reported
  • allegations that the lawmaker used his position to influence a state official to write a letter to help him obtain a $150,000 loan for a real estate deal in Wilmington
  • accusations that he diverted almost $19,000 in contributions and loans into his personal accounts when they were supposed to go to a nonprofit organization he directs

Wright's criminal trial also was set to begin next week, but a judge this week postponed it to give Wright's attorney more time to prepare.

Wright filed a motion Wednesday seeking a temporary restraining order against the ethics committee, saying defending himself at the ethics hearing would harm his position before the criminal trial. Not only would potential jurors be affected by the ethics hearings, prosecutors would learn about Wright's defensive strategy, the motion states.

Wright also alleged in the motion that the General Assembly has no authority to discipline its members, and he asked that the court declare all legislative ethics hearings unconstitutional.

A court hearing on the motion is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Thursday.

Defense attorney Douglas Harris has blamed many of Wright's troubles on sloppy bookkeeping. He has said he expects a jury will find Wright innocent.

Wright has refused to resign, saying voters should determine if he remains in office. He recently announced plans to run for re-election.

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  • common_sense_plz Feb 28, 2008

    I agree that he is an arrogant man and had any other politician done this, he would have been ther first to want to convict. Why do these politicians think that they are above the law. are they really this stupid, guess so. But they probably will re-elect him again this would just prove the voters stupidity asa well.

  • Paladin2 Feb 28, 2008

    He is an arrogant crook who is apparently going to file for re-election. He knows many of his less intelligent constituents would vote for him again and would probably throw a fundraiser for him like was done in the case of inmate Congressman Ballantine.

  • Rolling Along Feb 28, 2008

    He might as well just go ahead and take the punishment. All he has done so far is reinforce the opinion(s) that he is guilty. I say go ahead and allow the IRS to toast him for criminal evasion. Then try him on the rest of the stuff.

  • yruatwit Feb 28, 2008

    Of course.......this is a clear case of sloppy bookkeeping, just like the Enron incident, just like Jim Black's campaign checks, just like Representrative McAllister's minor financial oversights, just like etc., etc., etc. No need to worry, little insignificant mistakes, pure and simple.

  • TheAdmiral Feb 28, 2008

    Another corrupt politician who refuses to give up his seat - so he can spew more corruption.

    When this corrupt politician was put in office, we were in Wilmington, and we knew he was corrupt - and guess what - he still is.

    Another Jim Black.

  • Sandollar Feb 28, 2008

    No, he should post something to the effect that he is lawless and someone else is ignorant. He could say he is insane.

  • Sandollar Feb 28, 2008

    I agree with doodad... There's no need for an Ethics Committee if they don't do their job. They are letting the corrupt Wright dictate how he is to be treated. That's not the way it is with the public. Seems the authority figures have dropped the ball here and don't want to do the RIGHT thing. Corruption is Corruption no matter what side of the choir you site on. They are giving him time to cook the books some more. He just should not be a law maker when he can not abide by them himself. I guess the laws are not meant for him.

  • willis2 Feb 28, 2008

    What does the IRS intend to do? If he declared the "sweat equity" on his tax return the case should be a slam dunk. If he didn't perhaps an IRS auditor could correct his sloppy bookeeping.

  • WHEEL Feb 28, 2008

    Why doesn't he file a motion to have himself declared innoscent. That makes about as much sense as what he has done here.

  • doodad Feb 28, 2008

    And anyone who would vote for him again should be locked up behind bars with him.

    The audacity of these corrupt politians.