In case you missed it, be sure to check out the story in Raleigh’s News & Observer about the cozy relationship between House Speaker Tim Moore and a pair of his former House colleagues who have gone on to prominent government jobs. This is from the story:
“Two former state lawmakers got an unusual payday this month from House Speaker Tim Moore – $67 each for replacing a range hood and taking down two bathroom mirrors in the Raleigh condo Moore rents from his own business.
Moore paid Edgar Starnes and Mitch Gillespie after The News & Observer inquired about the work. Starnes is the legislative liaison for the State Treasurer’s Department, and Gillespie is a senior policy analyst on Moore’s staff.
All three worked together as Republican House members for much of the past decade. Starnes, of Caldwell County, was majority leader while Moore served as the powerful Rules Committee chairman under Speaker Thom Tillis….
In October, Moore was updating the condo, which he bought in 2013 through a company he owns called Moore Properties of Kings Mountain. He uses his political campaign money to pay his company the rent on the condo when the legislature isn’t in session. He uses his per diem from the legislature to pay rent during the session.
WBTV in Charlotte first reported that arrangement, which state Board of Elections officials say does not violate election laws.
Moore said those updates included a new oven, dishwasher and refrigerator, as well as new countertops for the kitchen and bathroom and a new toilet. He showed billing documents from Lowe’s for the items and installation work, but did not provide copies of them.
He based the $67 payments on a $114 estimate Lowe’s gave him for replacing the range hood, and an additional $10 labor for taking down the mirrors.”
Now, obviously, the dollars involved in all of this are small potatoes. But as the story points out, the arrangements raise real questions of judgment for Moore. What’s more they also highlight the cozy relationships that often permeate the musical chairs world surrounding the General Assembly — one in which individuals frequently arrive in Raleigh as backbench legislators and parlay their positions into lucrative lobbying and government gigs, all while maintaining close ties to their former colleagues.
The bottom line: The North Carolina General Assembly isn’t (or shouldn’t be) a small town club like it was in past times. It is the legislature of a large and growing state and citizens have a right to expect that the men and women elected to serve in it will treat it as such and adhere scrupulously to the ethics rules that govern it. Let’s hope Moore, Gillespie and Starnes have been reminded of this.