by Brenée Goforth
Media Manager & Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
Last week, JLF’s Becki Gray made her regular appearance on North Carolina Public Radio WUNC with host Jeff Tiberii. Becki and fellow guest Rob Schofield from the N.C. Justice Center discussed the indictment of political donor John Gray, the status of our “part time” legislature, and the wrongful death lawsuit against Duke Energy.
NPR describes the indictment issue with special attention on Rep. David Lewis, R-Harnett:
A powerful state lawmaker borrowed $500,000 from a friend and political donor for a personal loan. Months later, that lender was indicted on federal bribery charges.
However, the lawmaker – David Lewis (R-Harnett) – said he knew nothing of the investigation into his friend. And there is no evidence to suggest this loan was part of the federal investigation.
Rob Schofield relayed skepticism of the loan, alleging it was an example of state lawmakers using their office for personal gain.
“We do not know whether or not there was any illegality involved here… Whether it is illegal or not, though, it still stinks… If he was just a run-of-the mill farmer in Harnett county, he would not be getting a $500,000 loan from a person who is a powerful influencer…
I think it speaks to this whole culture in Raleigh that has been here for too long amongst both Democrats and Republicans of lawmakers getting elected, coming to Raleigh, and then cashing in.”
JLF’s Becki Gray, on the other hand, stated her concern about the media attention Rep. David Lewis was receiving for someone else’s indictment. Gray warned it could have a chilling effect on well-intentioned candidates running for office:
“There has been no allegation at all as far as I have been able to ascertain of illegal activity… If he were a regular farmer, would this be on the front page? Would we be talking about this today? …If this were a regular farmer, we would not be looking at it.
…We are getting ready to go into the 2020 election cycle. People are [soon] going to be making decisions of whether or not they are going to want to step up and run for public office. This is the kind of thing that I think is a tremendous deterrent for people to do that… If you are considering putting yourself and your family in the public light, this is the king of thing you could very well be subjected to, having done nothing illegal, having done nothing wrong.”
Listen to the full episode of WUNC’s Politics podcast here. Follow Becki Gray on twitter: @beckigray.