Conservative group alleges ethical lapses by Cabarrus County legislator

It’s far too frequent of an occurrence to see legislators getting behind legislation that benefits them, their families, and / or their family business interests.  It’s far too infrequent to see them actually called out for it.  But the Cabarrus Conservative Alliance is stepping forward with allegations that state Rep. Kevin Crutchfield (R) has used the power of his office to benefit his family’s business interests:

Last month the Cabarrus Conservative Alliance filed an ethics complaint with the North Carolina State Ethics Commission to Cabarrus County House Representative Kevin Crutchfield for violating General Statue 138A-31 for using his public position for private gain. As a principal owner or shareholder, Crutchfield filed bills to benefit his financial interests.

Filed Three Bills to Benefit his Family’s Casco Signs Company

Mr. Crutchfield filed three bills related to signs, advertising, and sign permits while owning Casco Signs, Inc., formerly known as the Crutchfield Group. The company specializes in the manufacturing and installation of commercial signs and other print services. Mr. Crutchfield currently serves as CFO according to his recent Statement of Economic Interest filed with the State Ethics Commission.

House Bill 771proposes government intervention to create new revenue for his company when a local sign ordinance is passed by a municipality. Instead of grandfathering existing signs, this new legislation requires all existing signs to comply by mandating the manufacturing of new signage.

House Bill 693 would allow his company to come onto private property and remove and repossess a sign when a client defaults on payment. Again, Casco Signs would be the sole arbiter repossession facilitator when determining their client had not paid their bills.The company would avoid 100 percent of all their legal fees and court costs when reclaiming their manufactured signs on private property.

The third bill,House Bill 132 mandates that government agencies allow for sign permits to be sent by US Postal mail or email instead of requiring the company to pick up the permit in person. 

In 1996 the North Carolina Legislative Ethics Committee issued advisory opinions as an ethics guide to lawmakers. Opinion #7 asks the question, “Is it inappropriate for a legislator who is the president and owner of a wholesale specialty supply house supplying a particular industry to sponsor and/or support (1) legislation eliminating the sales tax on specialty supply sales to a segment of that industry and (2) legislation modifying licensing fees for wholesale specialty supply distributors to that industry?”  The ethics opinion issued to all legislators reads, “General Assembly members should not only avoid conflicts of interest but also the appearance of these conflicts so that the legislative institution and its members are not thereby denigrated. 

Citizens might reasonably believe that there is a conflict of interest in the legislator’s introduction of either of the two measures. Since there would be the appearance of a conflict of interest, it is recommended that the legislator not sponsor either. The legislator must resolve whether to actively support or vote on these matters after a self-examination to determine whether an actual conflict of interest exists and, if so, whether it would impair independence of judgment in acting.”  

Filed a Bill to Benefit Crutchfield Farms, Inc.

Representative Crutchfield was the primary bill sponsor of House Bill 865 to provide government grants to farmers on April 25, 2023. Mr. Crutchfield is himself a cattle farmer and he stands to directly benefit from receiving government grants paying him to get his meat products to market. He serves as President according to his recent Statement of Economic Interest filed with the State Ethics Commission. 

Not included in our ethics complaint, but worthy of investigation is Mr. Crutchfield’s sponsorship and votes on House Bill 41 which focuses on law changes related to hotels, inns, and other housing.

According to his recent Statement of Economic Interest filed with the State Ethics Commission, Mr. Crutchfield is an investor in two hospitality companies, The Opportunity Lodging One and GSH Group, LLC. is managed by Doug Stafford of Concord. 

Response from Cabarrus Conservative Alliance

It is abundantly clear to the Cabarrus Conservative Alliance that Mr. Crutchfield acted outside the boundaries of ethical behavior as outlined by the State Ethics Commission. He appears to have failed to take any of the required actions to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest. 

“The citizens of Cabarrus and Rowan counties sent Mr. Crutchfield to Raleigh to represent us, not his business investments,” said Ronald Long, Chairman of the Cabarrus Conservative Alliance. “It is detestable that Crutchfield would abuse his power and line his pockets by unethically leading on legislation for self-interest.”

Representative Crutchfield purposefully used his role in government to file legislation and serve as the primary sponsor of five bills that would financially benefit him. Our organization found that in three different industries, Representative Crutchfield failed to follow the guidelines published by the North Carolina Ethics Commission and we called on the State Ethics Commission to investigate when we filed our complaint on January 18, 2024. 

Representative Crutchfield represents District 83, which includes parts of Cabarrus and Rowan Counties, in the North Carolina State House. He serves as the New Member Leader of the Republican House Caucus. As a leader to new members of his caucus, Crutchfield’s actions are disturbing.

Click Here to view an image of the official complaint filed by the CCA against Rep. Crutchfield.  Click here to view the 1996 ethics advisory issued to legislators that was cited in the above-quoted CCA release.

Kevin Crutchfield is involved in a primary fight with fellow Republican Brian Echevarria.   The primary election takes place on March 5.