Well, it appears embattled Republican legislator and state House Rules Committee chairman Stephen LaRoque is DONE. The recount in his apparent May 8th loss to challenger John Bell confirmed that LaRoque lost by 39 votes.
Confirmation of the LaRoque defeat would appear to eliminate one of House Speaker Thom Tillis’s political headaches. (The whole Lobbyist Love thing is still hanging around out there.) LaRoque, a close political ally of Tillis and former legislator Richard Morgan, had been under fire over questions about his private business’s use of tax dollars. Those questions were reportedly the subject of a federal probe. It took a public protest and demand from Minority Leader Joe Hackney to persuade Tillis to refer LaRoque’s case to the House Ethics Committee.
Surely, with LaRoque’s defeat, the Ethics Committee action will go away. Hopefully, the questions about LaRoque’s business dealings will get a thorough examination by the appropriate authorities. This is about more than saving Thom Tillis and the House Republican Caucus from “further embarrassment.” It’s about protecting the integrity of — and restoring confidence in — our government. We can’t allow this all to just “go away” without a thorough review by the appropriate investigative authorities.
The GOP nominee in that district, John Bell, still has to get through the November general election in a competitive district. He appears to have “establishment” written all over him. (I hope I’m wrong.) Hopefully, Bell — if successful in November — will help turn the page on what has been a rocky chapter in the nascent Republican era in Raleigh.