Tillis watching LaRoque controversy (with audio)

N.C. House Speaker Thom Tillis is independently looking at allegations of mismanagement and cronyism at two federally-funded non-profits that state Rep. Stephen LaRoque runs.

“What I’m trying to do is get my facts straight beginning with confirmation of your information, talking with the federal agencies that are involved, and we’ll continue that process,” Tillis said in comments he made Thursday to N.C. Policy Watch.

It’s the first time Tillis, has addressed about the recent controversy surrounding LaRoque, a conservative Republican from Kinston who serves as the co-chair of the powerful House Rules Committee.  A News & Observer editorial from last week called on Tillis to probe the allegations.

LaRoque, serving his third term, was the subject of a recent N.C. Policy Watch investigation that found LaRoque was earning up to $195,000 a year running two economic development non-profits funded with federal USDA money. LaRoque’s board of directors had members of LaRoque’s immediate family serving on it, and loans were made to close associates, including two other GOP legislators.

Tillis was in Kinston Thursday – he told the crowd it was the first time he’d ever stopped there after passing through many times — for one of the scheduled town hall meetings he’s been holding this month around the state. He briefly spoke with NC Policy Watch after fielding questions from the approximately 50 Kinston residents who gathered at a well-known barbecue restaurant to hear from the legislative leader.

LaRoque sat to the side of Tillis during the town hall meeting, with LaRoque looking more uncomfortable than he did earlier this week when he held a press conference to counter the N.C. Policy Watch investigation.  LaRoque has consistently maintained that he has done nothing wrong.

Tillis said he’s not going to rush to any judgment, but is reviewing the information that’s been reported by NC Policy Watch before making any decisions about LaRoque’s role in the state legislature.

When asked about the possibly of a House ethics investigation, Tillis said it was unclear to him whether the allegations would fall under the purview of an ethics investigation.

“That’s a question I’ve asked everyone to look at,” Tillis said. “We’re going through this process as we would with anybody else.”

(UPDATE: To hear Tillis’ unedited comments, click here: Tillis’ reaction)


  1. David Esmay

    August 18, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    It’s unclear to Thom Tillis that Stephen Laroque’s actions are unethical, that’s not surprising, he’s probably never read the definition of ethics, and wouldn’t recognize integrity either. Those two words are not part of the GOP’s dictionary.

  2. James

    August 18, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I smell a white wash.

    Leave it to Tillis to conduct is “own investigation.” Anyone with half a brain can see he’s not an objective observer. Plus his record of lurching from one extreme to the other (staff hiring, staff raises, staff firing) suggests he’s also unstable.

    Independent counsel time.

  3. francesjenkins

    August 18, 2011 at 8:31 pm

    Democrat Corruption:

    Mike Easley
    Jim Black
    Ruffian Poole
    John Edwards
    Meg Scott Phipps
    RC Soles
    Lottery scandal
    Just to mention a few!!

  4. David Esmay

    August 18, 2011 at 8:57 pm

    Frances, this is about Laroque, if you want to start a new thread that’s fine, but the focus here is about how he operates his non-profit.

  5. francesjenkins

    August 18, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    The point being if the Republicans started today it would take them 150 years plus to committ all the corruption equal to that of the Democrats and the Democrat Party. This is a fact than you, Progressive Pulse, and NC Policy Watch continues to fail to recognize or admit. It is only told one way, against the far right or Republicans. The average Joe on the street does not take you, Progressive pulse, NC Policy Watch serious. Just my thoughts!!

  6. jlp75

    August 19, 2011 at 12:08 pm


    For someone who doesn’t take it seriously, you sure seem to spend a lot of time here.

  7. David Esmay

    August 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm

    I am an average joe on the street, and more of us are progressive and liberal than conservative. It seems to me, since the repubs have control, albeit based on their ineptitude, an abbreviated contol, for the first time in 140 years, they are certainly making up for lost time.

  8. David Esmay

    August 20, 2011 at 3:30 pm

    ” An enemy can partly ruin a man, but it takes a good natured injudicious friend to complete the thing and make it perfect.” Mark Twain -Pudd’nhead Wilson. To Stephen from your bff Thom.

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