The state legislature has got a bill in its possession that would bring local government officials under very similar ethical standards to those state officials have to live by. The inspiration for SB473 appears to have been events such as those recently in Scotland County’s East Laurinburg and Cumberland County’s Spring Lake.
Both Treasurer Dale Folwell and Auditor Beth Wood, members of the Local Government Commission, are the loudest voices outside the legislature favoring the change.
Among its many provisions, SB 473 has prohibitions for local officials dealing with contracts if they have a conflict of interest. There are also misdemeanor penalties for violations, and felony penalties for elected officials who receive personal financial gain through abuse of power.
This bill, if it clears Jones Street, should be an especially big help in places like Pinehurst — where elected officials have recently fabricated “ethical dilemmas” to settle scores with political rivals.