#ncga: The ghost of Ethics Complaints Past

David Lewis is a powerful man on Jones Street.  He chairs the House Rules Committee and is a bona-fide FOT (Friend of Timmy).  He has a big say as to whether your legislation sees the light of day on the House floor.  (Timmy used to have that job before he moved up to the big chair.) 

We’re thinking a lot of bodily orifices on and around Jones Street tightened up when THIS story hit the driveby media last week:

A pair of contractors tasked with towing, storing and auctioning off cars seized from impaired drivers and people who run from police can’t account for 234 vehicles, according to a state auditor’s report released Tuesday.

Martin Edwards & Associates, the Cumberland County-based contractor for the state’s eastern half, was responsible for all but 13 of those vehicles and “actively hindered” the inquiry, the audit states. At one point, someone from the company threw a subpoena at an auditor trying to serve it, it states.

It’s unclear what happened to the unaccounted for vehicles. State Auditor Beth Wood’s office relied on paperwork – and the contractors’ lack of it – to make its report and forwarded the case to the state Division of Motor Vehicles’ License and Theft Bureau for more investigation and possible criminal charges. The contractors were supposed to split proceeds from auctioned seized vehicles with local school systems, and auditors concluded that “there is a risk that contractors inappropriately benefited from the contract.”

“There’s absolutely the potential for criminal activity here,” Wood said. “There’s absolutely a probability that money that should have gone to schools didn’t go to schools.” […]

Let’s travel back to a post from our site in November 2015.  Rep. Lewis was called out for abusing the technical corrections process in the House — meant to deal with typos in legislation — to reinstate the state contract for this particular company.  (The House, in legislation introduced by Rep. George Cleveland, had voted earlier to kill the contract.)  Cleveland responded to this move by filing an ethics complaint against Lewis.  But Cleveland’s complaint disappeared into thin air — never to be heard from again. 

Now, we have an audit suggesting that the serious possibility exists of criminal conduct by a state contractor.  A contractor who has donated BIG to Lewis’s campaign.  A contractor who Lewis apparently bent the rules for in order to save their state contract.