Local Politics

State Rep. Ty Harrell resigns from General Assembly

Posted September 20, 2009 6:28 p.m. EDT
Updated September 20, 2009 11:38 p.m. EDT

— State Rep. Ty Harrell, D-Wake, who is under investigation over campaign expenditures, has resigned, according to Bill Holmes, a spokesman for House Speaker Joe Hackney.

"With the recent turbulence in my personal life and continued speculation about my campaign expenditures, I do not feel that I can provide the high standard of representation that my constituents expect and deserve," Harrell said in his resignation letter submitted to Hackney on Sunday.

Harrell's spending in recent months has been called into question. Harrell and his wife have also separated amidst allegations he has engaged in extramarital affairs, according to court documents. The couple has two sons.

"Ty is to be commended for putting his children first as he works through the problems at hand. Stepping down now shows great respect for our House of Representatives and the people of his district. I wish him well," Hackney said in a statement Sunday.

A campaign finance report Harrell filed earlier this month reported 165 expenditures for the first six months of this year – an unusually large number for a non-election year.

Some of the expenses include the notations "candidate obligation," "volunteer recruitment" or "donor cultivation" to explain the purpose of the expense. The Board of Elections wants Harrell to provide documentation to clarify how his campaign money was spent and to demonstrate that it was for official purposes.

Under state law, campaign money can be used only for campaign-related expenses. Money can't be spent for personal use.

An sent Sept. 10 to Harrell's campaign finance chairman questions hundreds of expenses dating back to January 2007, including $235 spent last November at Lamb's Ear, a high-end children's clothing store in North Hills, and $191 he spent at Sharon's Luggage. He said in his report that both expenses were for a "committee meeting."

Harrell also paid himself $500 in April for a "candidate obligation," according to the audit letter.

Hackney has asked a legislative ethics panel to examine "irregularities" in Harrell's campaign finance reports to determine if they violate ethics rules, criminal law or both.

House Minority Leader Paul Stam said the panel was scheduled to meet Monday.

"We would have received it and decided what to do in the sense of whether to have the attorney general investigate it (or an) outside law firm,” Stam said.

With Harrell stepping down, the matter is out of the ethics panel's hands and rests with the Board of Elections.

Harrell told WRAL News earlier this month that all of the expenses are legitimate. He said he's confident his actions will be cleared by the investigation.