GOP: No ethics hearing on lawmaker's sweepstakes games

Posted February 15, 2011 4:10 p.m. EST

— House Speaker Thom Tillis said Tuesday that he has no plans to hold any ethics hearings on a state lawmaker's ownership of Internet sweepstakes games.

Rep. Mike Stone, R-Lee, said Monday that he planned to remove the games from his Sanford store to eliminate all questions of his objectivity on any House gaming votes.

State lawmakers have tried for years to ban video poker and sweepstakes games in North Carolina.

Stone last week led a closed-door Republican House caucus meeting on gaming, but he said Monday that he didn't pick the lobbyists who spoke both for and against a ban.

The North Carolina Democratic Party on Tuesday called for an ethics investigation of Stone, saying he also has taken campaign money from gaming interests.

“They've been screaming for years about transparency, but the Republicans have already shut the public and even those who voted for them out of their meetings,” Democratic Party Chairman David Parker said in a statement. “Two weeks after taking office, Rep. Stone has let gambling lobbyists into his office and told them to lock the door behind them.”

Tillis dismissed the Democratic clamor for a hearing.

"This is a partisan, frivolous request that does not merit a response. We are focused on getting North Carolina’s fiscal house in order, not on partisan politics as usual,” he said.