With federal investigators turning up the heat on state Rep. Stephen Laroque (R-Kinston), it will be interesting to see what — if any — action House Speaker Thom Tillis takes in regard to the beleaguered legislator. Tillis has actively helped push out other scandal-tarred Republican legislators. House Minority Leader Joe Hackney had to really force the issue with Tillis about getting the House Ethics Committee involved in the Laroque matter.
With Laroque, things may be a little touchy, a little uncomfortable and close-to-home for Tillis. Tillis and Laroque are part of the same political clique, which has former state Rep. Richard Morgan (R-Moore) at its center.
In 2005, Morgan was getting annoyed with state Reps. John Blust (R-Greensboro) and John Rhodes (R-Cornelius). Both men were conducting guerilla warfare against Morgan and his taboo alliance with then-House Speaker Jim Black. Morgan openly boasted about getting rid of Rhodes. He even went as far as scouring the Charlotte area for potential recruits to primary Rhodes. Morgan found a taker in Cornelius Town Council member Thom Tillis. Morgan helped Tillis with campaign resources and even arranged fundraisers.
In the 2006 GOP primary, Tillis was able to overpower Rhodes. (Ironically, Morgan also lost his House seat in that primary.)
This blog has obtained scores and scores of emails — from Morgan’s 2006-2007 legal fight with Art Pope — that indicate that two of the three legislators at the center of l’affaire Laroque — Debbie Clary and Laroque — were close associates of Morgan, and had frequent conversations with him about business, political and personal matters. Morgan is also clearly responsible for Tillis’ political career in Raleigh.
So — Tillis, Clary, and Laroque all have the same political “Godfather.” What are the chances that further probing into l’affaire Laroque reveals Tillis’ fingerprints?