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Ethics investigation launched over lawmaker's re-election ad

Posted April 12, 2012 4:17 p.m. EDT
Updated April 12, 2012 6:46 p.m. EDT

— The State Ethics Commission has notified Rep. Jim Crawford, D-Granville, that it is investigating whether he broke the law by using the House chamber and legislative aides as a backdrop in a campaign ad.

State law prohibits the use of taxpayer funds in political advertising.

Crawford declined to comment Thursday on the investigation, saying only, “I think there were a lot of innuendos that were very unfair, and it won’t be settled till after the election.”

He told WRAL News a month ago that he doesn't think he did anything wrong with the campaign ad, which shows him speaking on the House floor, with several people seated at lawmakers' desks behind him, as if he were engaged in a floor debate.

The "lawmakers" behind him are legislative aides who were rounded up by his legislative assistant to help with the video shoot.

Legislative staffers Gennie Thurlow and Cindy Hobbs said they were on the clock during the video shoot, but added that there was no intention to break any rules. They said they were just trying to help out.

"This investigation concerns whether you violated (state law) by using the House chamber for one of your political advertisements without payment or reimbursement to the state and whether you allowed legislative employees to appear in the advertisement while they were on state time and being paid by the state," Ethics Commission attorney Susan Lundberg wrote in an April 3 letter to Crawford.

"This investigation may also address other statutory provisions within the commission's jurisdiction that may have been violated during this time period," Lundberg wrote.

A spokesman for House Speaker Thom Tillis told WRAL News last month that Crawford didn't need permission to use the House chamber because all House members have access to the chamber floor at all times.

Crawford faces a primary challenge in May after he and Rep. Winkie Wilkins, D-Person, were drawn into the same district in new voting maps.