Local News

House Speaker Pro Tem Asks for Help Paying Legal Bills

Posted November 28, 2006 2:19 a.m. EST
Updated November 23, 2007 2:50 p.m. EST

Taxpayers are helping pay the legal bills for House Speaker Pro Tem Richard Morgan and various legislative staff members.

Morgan has been subpoenaed to testify before and supply documents to a federal grand jury about what appears to be a corruption case linked to House Speaker Jim Black.

Legislative counsel wrote a letter asking Attorney General Roy Cooper's office to provide legal representation for Morgan, but the attorney general's office cited conflict of interest because the SBI is involved in the case.

In the written response to the request, Chief Deputy Attorney General Grayson Kelley also pointed out that lawmakers had exempted themselves from the state statute that requires the attorney general to approve such requests.

Earlier this year, the attorney general approved a $30,000 request from Black for legal help, but rejected a second, larger request. Afterward, legislators changed the law.

Morgan told WRAL that he deserves legal assistance because the subpoena pertains to his public position. Black and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight agree. They cleared the way for taxpayers to pay the bill for Morgan and others. How much, however, is not yet clear.

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