McCrory Calls for State Grand Juries to Fight Corruption
Mayor Pat McCrory, the Republican candidate for governor, today proposed giving the state Attorney General and the Wake County District Attorney the ability to empanel investigative grand juries as an important tool to fight political corruption.
"During the Easley-Perdue administration, six of the state's top officials went to prison after being convicted of felonies. However, none of them were convicted by North Carolina state courts. We must clean up our own state government and not continue to depend on federal courts to do our work."
McCrory's proposed policy initiatives include:
Providing for investigative grand juries to be employed by the state Attorney General and the Wake County District Attorney for the purpose of investigating criminal acts in government.
Making it a felony criminal violation to lie to a SBI agent investigating government criminal acts.
Changing the state ethics law that allows the state to drop an ethics investigation if a government employee or board member resigns his or her position.
Providing for tougher penalties for campaign finance violations.
McCrory has made fighting corruption and mismanagement in state government a central theme in his campaign. "We will never send the signal that we are serious about ending corruption until state leaders take action to change the culture of corruption. That's why we must investigate and prosecute cases in our state courts," he said.
One of the reasons the federal government has taken the lead in state corruption investigations is that they have grand jury powers while the state does not. Federal prosecutors often use the grand jury process to force witnesses to testify under oath and with the threat of perjury charges.
In recent months federal prosecutors have been successful in using grand juries to prosecute former sheriffs in Buncombe, Brunswick and Robeson counties. In another case, federal prosecutors have obtained indictments in a state bribery case involving Agri-Ethanol, a company with close ties to Beverly Perdue's fundraising efforts, which is still part of an ongoing investigation.
Former DOT Board member Lewis Sewell recently resigned from his position when it was revealed that he directed road projects to benefit property owned by his family. Once Sewell resigned, the complaint before the state Ethics Commission was dropped.
"We have sent the wrong signals to people who take advantage of state appointments," said McCrory. "Two DOT Board members who served as fundraisers for Beverly Perdue were permitted to resign and face no further consequences when it was discovered they had acted improperly. Perhaps an investigative grand jury could have taken more forceful action and helped end such abuses."