Local Politics

Lawmakers Regret Need for Special Session

Posted March 12, 2008
Updated March 20, 2008

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— State lawmakers said they wish they didn't have the opportunity to make history.

Gov. Mike Easley has called a special session of the state House for 10 a.m. Thursday for lawmakers to decide on a punishment for state Rep. Thomas Wright.

A special legislative committee recently found Wright, D-New Hanover, guilty of six counts of ethical misconduct and recommended that he be removed from office.

"I think it's enormously sad. I don't like having to do it," said Rep. Alice Bordsen, D-Alamance. "(But) let's deal with this in a timely fashion so that Rep. Wright's constituents know what they can expect."

Wright, who also faces criminal fraud and obstruction of justice charges in the case, has refused to step down, saying voters should decide his fate. He has filed for re-election.

Some lawmakers said they wished the ethics action could have waited until after Wright's March 31 criminal trial – if he's convicted of a felony, he couldn't hold public office – to spare them the job of expelling him.

"I have concerns that we're almost sitting as if we we're a criminal trial without actually having a trial," said Rep. Bill Faison, D-Caswell.

Timing aside, Faison said he's disappointed that Wright hasn't offered an explanation for how corporate donations to a nonprofit that ended up in Wright's personal bank account.

"The whole concept of this thing is a difficult thing," he said.

Wright is accused of mishandling about $340,000 in campaign contributions, loans and charitable donations. The legislative panel found him guilty of the following violations:

  • not reporting $180,000 in campaign contributions
  • using 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
  • diverting almost $19,000 in contributions and loans into his personal accounts when they were supposed to go to a nonprofit organization he directs

"Any time you have folks questioning the integrity of legislative members, it needs to be dealt with," said Rep. Susan Fisher, D-Buncombe.

The General Assembly has expelled 11 members since its creation. The last was Josiah Turner of Hillsborough, who was censured and expelled in 1880 for improprieties and a disrespectful manner.

12 Comments

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  • OLD PIRATE 2 Mar 13, 2008

    The only thing that scars our legislators is the black caucus.
    otherwise this is a no brainer...I've written to 3 legislators and only one replied with a thank you letter.

  • duster 340 Mar 13, 2008

    whatelseisnew
    We need to get rid of these people regardless of what they do about Wright. Between this Governor and this legislature they are running this state right into the ground. Let's replace all of them in November regardless of party affiliation.
    I could not say it better

  • colliedave Mar 13, 2008

    Why don't they just e-mail in the vote?

  • beachboater Mar 13, 2008

    If our lawmakers are worried about fallout from the public, forgetaboutit. The public wants action to remove corupt politicians. And we want it done with haste.

  • Doctor Dataclerk Mar 13, 2008

    They haven't expelled one of these crooks since 1880, what a joke. Look at how many have been caught since then, and if Federal investigators hadn't stepped in nothing would have been done.

  • Doctor Dataclerk Mar 13, 2008

    Like I said before and they wouldn't post it, throw him out and Mary McAllister out on her ear in the same session.

  • whatelseisnew Mar 13, 2008

    We need to get rid of these people regardless of what they do about Wright. Between this Governor and this legislature they are running this state right into the ground. Let's replace all of them in November regardless of party affiliation.

  • whatusay Mar 13, 2008

    Lawmakers should be celebrating. To show NC citizens that they will do kick the criminals out of our government is a sign of strength.

  • mmania Mar 13, 2008

    If they don't get Wright out we should go ahead and make sure they don't get re-elected. They should stop dragging their feet and start worrying about how it looks to the people who elect them, otherwise it could be them in the next election.

  • Scubagirl Mar 13, 2008

    "Lawmakers Regret Need for Special Session"
    If they had done the right thing all along the special session would not be necessary. So tired or crooks in politics-lets clean house!

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