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Top NC House staffer resigns

Posted April 27, 2012

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— Charles Thomas, chief of staff to House Speaker Thom Tillis, resigned late Thursday after admitting to a romantic relationship with a lobbyist.

Thomas served one term in the House representing Buncombe County. He became friends with fellow Republican Tillis during that 2007 session.  

Tillis brought Thomas back to Raleigh in 2011 to manage the speaker's office. 

Thomas, whose wife and children live in Asheville, was engaged in a romantic relationship with Jessica Hayes, a lobbyist for the North Carolina Home Builders' Association. He wouldn't comment further on that relationship.

"I have no interest in discussing my personal life," he said. 

He did, however, add that his relationship with Hayes had nothing to do with any policy initiatives that came from Tillis' office. Any allegation of improper influence, he said, is "absolutely untrue."

Jane Pinsky, director of the North Carolina Coalition for Lobbying and Government Reform, said having an affair doesn't technically violate the state ethics code.

"There is, however, a certain perception that someone is getting favors because they're a friend of yours," Pinsky said. "Ms. Hayes had the advantage of Mr. Thomas always returning her phone calls first and perhaps his talking to her about things another lobbyist might not have knowledge of."

Thomas resigned after compromising photos of him and Hayes, taken by a private investigator, were given to The News & Observer newspaper.

Mike Carpenter, a vice president with the Home Builders Association, said Hayes resigned Friday after he asked her to quit.

Hayes could not be reached for comment.

Jessica Hayes Affair costs House staffer, lobbyist jobs

Attempts to reach Thomas' wife were also unsuccessful. She battled breast cancer last fall with Thomas at her side.

Tillis issued a statement Friday morning confirming Thomas' departure.

"An individual's personal life should remain personal, but to avoid professional distractions from the tasks in front of us, I have accepted his resignation," Tillis said. "Charles is a friend who has spent many years in service to his state and his country, and I wish him well in the future."

Thomas said he believes the private investigator was hired and paid by a political enemy. He declined to name that person on the record but said he is looking into it.

"Clearly, (it's) somebody that's highly motivated and well funded, but at this time, I'm not prepared to level any accusations at any entity or any person," he said.

"No elected official has ever been targeted like this, let alone a non-elected staff member," he said. "This is going to open the floodgates."

Tillis has named policy adviser Chris Hayes to replace Thomas as acting chief of staff.

176 Comments

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  • moomoo Apr 27, 7:57 p.m.

    LadyBlue--It reads he "was engaged in" not "engaged to".

  • North Carolina Home Apr 27, 7:30 p.m.

    Mr Middle of the Road...well said.

    As a conservative Republican, I also feel a sadness for Jay Parmley's family and the mixed feelings they have to be experiencing. Life isn't easy and none of us are perfect.

  • North Carolina Home Apr 27, 7:26 p.m.

    yourmandy...you're right

  • independent_thinker Apr 27, 7:18 p.m.

    "She battled breast cancer last fall with Thomas at her side."

    A page from Newt Gingrich and John Edwards playbook...

  • ladyblue Apr 27, 7:16 p.m.

    i think thats only to be found in the independant party.
    wildpig777--

    sorry to say but they are not exempt either. it's not the party but the person who is misrepresenting and dealing in "NO NO" that should be chastised. there's good and bad in all parties i'm sure.

  • wildpig777 Apr 27, 6:34 p.m.

    wow just heard that dude on tv speak -- what a piece o work tillus -- you can pick em. i demand tillus step down at once this state needs an honest politican. i think thats only to be found in the independant party.

  • younandy Apr 27, 6:33 p.m.

    Here we go again...making it Dem against Repub...This has absolutely nothing to do with political affiliation..it has everything to do with morality...Im certainly not one to throw stones but what the two of them were doing is wrong..and no its not their private life..its public if your both married to other people...and if your responsible for giving or receiving monies between law makers and special interest groups.. their decision to have an affair will now have an effect on their familes...God help their children for having their parents make a decision that has and will continue to embarass them...shame on em !!!

  • ladyblue Apr 27, 6:24 p.m.

    This happens every day of the year in every city in the world and it is and should remain a Personal Matter between the man and his wife..Not us!! Who cares if he cheats on his wife as long as he does his job.

    I think the difference is it's not the mistress part as much as the mistress is a LOBBYIST for HBA..Maybe his connections in the legislature could lean a vote on building codes and polices the way the mistress wants for her company...after all he wants to keep her happy too..Other than that i could care less...

  • jgilchr Apr 27, 6:03 p.m.

    So an individual's personal life should remain personal? Is that unless you want to legislate morality in the form of a ridiculous constitutional amendment?

  • godshelper Apr 27, 6:01 p.m.

    North Carolina Home-Wreckers Association is it? Which state division are they under

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