Ethics complaint lodged against Crawford over ad

Posted March 16, 2012 12:05 p.m. EDT

Progress North Carolina ACTION filed a complaint Friday with the State Ethics Commission against Rep. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, over a campaign ad.

The left-leaning group alleges that Crawford abused the power of his office by using the state House chamber as a backdrop for political advertising and permitted the use of state funds for political gain by having state employees to appear in the campaign ad while on state time.

The complaint follows a WRAL News report in which two legislative aides said they were on the clock during the video shoot.

Crawford said that he didn't know the aides were working at the time, and he didn't think there was anything wrong with shooting the ad in the House chamber.

“Rep. Jim Crawford abused the power of his office for political gain. That’s a clear violation of the State Government Ethics Act,” Gerrick Brenner, executive director of the group, said in a statement. “We also call on the Legislative Ethics Committee to begin an investigation as soon as possible.”

House Speaker Thom Tillis said through a spokesman Thursday that House members don't need permission to access the chamber at any time and that no investigation of Crawford's action was in order unless someone filed a complaint.

Crawford faces a May 8 primary against Rep. Winkie Wilkins, D-Person, after new voting maps drew them into the same district.