RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina Rep. Frank Ballance
says he will not step down, despite a federal investigation into possible crimes involving his nonprofit foundation. A federal grand jury is investigating accusations of misspent money and conflict of interest.
Ballance played Santa Claus to three rural fire departments Thursday, presenting them with nearly $800,000 in federal grants. The check presentations allowed Ballance to focus on being a congressman while a grand jury investigates a drug and alcohol counseling center he co-founded in Warren County when he was a state lawmaker.
A state audit found the John Hyman Foundation riddled with conflicts of interest. Ballance said he has the support of many people.
"I'm very proud that people have warmly responded to me and said to me they are behind me and supporting me," he said. "We are working to make sure that issue does not impact our ability to serve."
The Republican Party has called on Ballance to give up his seat in the First District, which stretches from Oxford to Elizabeth City. Ballance said he has no intention of stepping down.
"If people came to me and said: 'Frank Ballance, we think your time is up. You ought to step aside,' I'm going to listen to those people," he said. "But nobody, so far, has come to me with that attitude. Everybody has come to me and said: 'Frank, we want you to run.'"
Despite the controversy, Ballance said he plans to run for a second term in office.