North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Cornelius) says allegations swirling around taxpayer-subsidized loans by state Rep. Stephen Laroque (R-Kinston) to himself (Laroque), family members and legislative colleagues are being referred to the House Ethics Committee for review:
House Speaker Thom Tillis said Wednesday that he would ask a legislative ethics committee to review a complaint against a fellow Republican lawmaker who made controversial loans to himself and other legislators.
The referral came after House Democratic leader Joe Hackney called for a special legislative commission to investigate Rep. Stephen LaRoque, a Kinston Republican facing questions about whether he violated federal tax laws or ethics policies by using his nonprofit to give loans to two lawmakers and a $200,000 no-interest loan to his own for-profit business, which went unreported on his tax return. LaRoque has denied any improprieties.
Speaking after a town hall forum in Morrisville, Tillis made no direct comments on LaRoque’s actions.
“We’ll have the legislative committee on ethics look at it and decide on whether it’s in their purview,” he said. “If not then we’ll determine what action, if any, that we’ll take.”
Laroque is a close political ally of former Moore County legislator SpeakerrrrrRichardMorgan™. He, Laroque, reportedly authorized low-interest taxpayer-subsidized loans to state Rep. Mark Hilton and state Senator Debbie Clary — both of whom are also close Morgan allies.
An “ethics committee” is a lot like having the inmates police the asylum. If anything ever happens, it tends to be along the lines of a slap on the wrist. You see more aggressive action by these committees if public opinion or the criminal justice system are applying the right amount of pressure.