Local Politics

Moore Lawmaker, Charged With DWI, Called Ineffective at Capitol

Posted April 16, 2008 5:50 p.m. EDT
Updated April 16, 2008 10:29 p.m. EDT

— Freshman Moore County legislator Joe Boylan has had a tough week.

Days before he was charged with drunken driving, a survey of legislators' effectiveness placed the Pinehurst Republican next to last among House members.

The only representative who ranked behind him in the annual report by the North Carolina Center for Public Policy Research was Thomas Wright, who was kicked out of the House last month for ethics violations and was subsequently convicted of fraud.

"I laughed," Boylan said. "This is also the same group that ranked (disgraced former House Speaker) Jim Black No. 1 for several years running."

For the poll, legislators and lobbyists are asked to rate lawmakers on their ability to get bills passed, their committee involvement and their debating skills.

Two-thirds of House members, half of the journalists covering the legislature and 30 percent of lobbyists took part in the poll, a response rate that the Center for Public Policy Research says is the highest for any similar survey nationwide.

“We’re well above any standards of statistical validation,” center executive director Ran Coble said.

Boylan said he has drafted a dozen bills and he deals with nearly 2,000 requests from constituents.

"I downplay it because it's just one measurement," he said, adding that he believes the poll has always been tilted toward Democrats.

“Historically, the most conservative legislators in the House and Senate have been ranked at the bottom of the list,” he said. “I know a lot of Republicans boycotted it because, unless you’re in power, you’re at the bottom of the list.”

Longevity contributes to higher rankings in the poll, according to the Center for Public Policy Research.

But Richard Morgan, the former co-speaker of the House who lost his 2006 campaign to Boylan, said inexperienced lawmakers can be just as effective as more seasoned ones.

"It's unusual to be last or next to last, and I don't think (it matters), freshman or not," Morgan said.

Boylan also has to deal with a driving while impaired charge filed against him last Thursday when his car ran into a ditch on a rural road outside Cameron.

“The good Lord hit me with a tree, and I got the message. Then I decided to attack the problem. I got counselors,” he said. "I'm going to lick this thing. I'm doing everything I can to make sure I never take another drink again."

The ranking and the DWI charge aren't the first scrapes Boylan has faced.

He was dogged by accusations that campaign workers committed fraud, but investigators found no wrongdoing. He also was accused of behaving inappropriately with a female House member, but he wasn't charged with misconduct.