Source: The News & Observer
Nearly a month after asking the Wake County District Attorney to investigate Republican House Speaker Tim Moore for possible corruption charges, Rep. Terence Everitt (D-Wake) learned that Moore had moved his office to a basement supply closet, The News & Observer reported.
The move came after a disagreement between Everitt and a Democratic colleague over a tweet. In a snarky, hand-delivered letter written by Moore, he told Everitt that he was moving him to Room 24, a former supply closet, for his “safety and security” following the “altercation.”
“I want you to know that I take the safety and security of you and every member of the legislature very seriously and have determined it appropriate to elevate your security,” Moore wrote.
The speaker said the closet had never been used as an office in 50 years.
“It is an office that we have held in reserve for quite some time for special circumstances and those members especially deserving or in need of such accommodations,” Moore continued. “In some ways this office assignment is historic, mind you in a very insignificant way.”
In an opinion piece he wrote for The News & Observer, Everitt said the move, which came just as the House was getting ready to vote on the disaster of a $30 billion budget, was an act of retribution and to create a distraction, not for safety reasons.
“This office move to the basement and the letter from Moore announcing it wasn’t simply a reflexive act of petty revenge. It was also an attempt to distract attention away from a deeply flawed budget written in the dark by legislative leaders and special interests,” he wrote.
For those unaware, Everitt called for an investigation into Moore after Scott Lassiter, a former Apex councilman and Republican fundraiser, sued the speaker for allegedly having a years-long affair with his wife and using “his position as one of the most powerful elected officials” in the state to “entice” her into an “illicit relationship.”
According to the lawsuit, which was later settled privately, Moore “persuaded her to engage in degrading acts to satisfy his desires, recognizing that [his wife] hoped her acquiescence to his demands would result in Defendant Tim Moore supporting favorable action for the organization she represents.”
Surely enough, Lassiter’s wife, the executive director of the N.C. Conference of Clerks of Superior Court, saw her salary increase 52% during the three-year affair she had with Moore – a massive raise far above what other state employees received in that three-year period, according to WRAL.
As Everitt wrote in his op-ed, “The fact is … there is credible evidence of corruption and abuse of power that deserves to be investigated.”
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman declined to investigate Moore.
Moving on from the revenge angle, Everitt focused on the reasons why Moore would want to distract from the budget.
“This is a budget that underfunds our schools, undervalues state employees and undermines the separation of powers in our state government. It came to us months late because Republican leaders, like Speaker Moore, were focused on working out a backroom deal – that ultimately failed – with casino special interests who also happened to be top fundraisers for Republican dark money campaigns,” he wrote.
Everitt highlighted the fact that state employees will only receive a 4% raise this year and a 3% raise next year while legislative leaders gave their right-wing friends on the state Supreme Court a 17.9% raise over the next two years.
Republicans tripled the size of the Opportunity Scholarship program and removed the income restrictions so that it’s no longer a program to allow children from low-income homes to attend private schools. Now, wealthy families who can afford to send their kids to private school will be able to get vouchers – paid for by you, the taxpayer – to send them at a reduced cost. The program will take $500 million away from public schools.
Everitt wrote, “If you took the money going for private school vouchers and instead raised teacher pay, you could double the raises this budget gives public school teachers.” On average, teachers are getting just a 7% raise over two years under this budget.
The budget also gives more power to Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger to authorize a new “legislative secret police with unprecedented powers to seize public records and enter the premises of state and local agencies and private companies who do business with the state,” according to Everitt.
“North Carolina just passed a state budget spending $30 billion of your money that was written in secret, passed after midnight, and with little time for the public — or even most legislators — to read its nearly 700 pages. And that is a lot more concerning than having an office in a basement.”