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Poll: Many Residents Distrust N.C. House Speaker

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ELON, N.C. — More than half of North Carolina residents are aware of troubles surrounding state House Speaker Jim Black, according to a poll released Monday by Elon University.

And of those who know of his problems, more than 70 percent of them said they had little or no confidence in the longtime Democratic state lawmaker. Only 10 percent expressed confidence in Black, a drop from 20 percent six months ago.

Questions have been raised in recent months about fund-raising for Black's campaign and his appointment of a lottery commissioner who is facing fraud charges in federal court. One of his former political aides has been found guilty of lobbying violations tied to the passage of the state lottery last year.

The telephone poll surveyed 649 adults from Sept. 24 to Sept. 28, and 340 participants who said they were aware of Black's situation were asked additional questions.

The survey had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points among the 649 respondents, and a 5.4 percentage-point margin of error among the 340 respondents.

Black, who represents Mecklenburg County, has not been charged with any wrongdoing, but a Wake County judge has asked his office to return $6,800 in illegal campaign contributions.

The situation worsened in August when former state Rep. Michael Decker pleaded guilty to accepting $50,000 to change parties. Decker's sudden switch from the Republicans to the Democrats helped Black win election as House speaker in 2003.

Black has denied being part of any deal with Decker.

Of those surveyed who were aware of the case, 57 percent also said they have no or little confidence in House members who support Black.

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