by Donna Martinez
Former Senior Writer and Editor, John Locke Foundation
It’s common sense. And it should already be state law, but it’s not. Not yet anyway. Senate Bill 473 would prohibit types of conflict of interest and questionable actions in office by elected officials. Locke’s Andy Jackson explains.
Incredibly, however, Senate Bill 473 – which had bipartisan support in the Senate – has been cast in curious terms by some who oppose it. It now awaits review in the House. Andy explains the curious dynamic here:
One of six senators who voted against S.B. 473 represents the Edgecombe County side of Rocky Mount, Sen. Milton “Toby” Fitch (D–Edgecombe, Halifax, Wilson). He used some interesting logic to justify his opposition. He essentially argued that the legislature should not make it illegal for public officials to use their positions to benefit financially because current law does not make it illegal for public officials to use their positions to benefit financially. As The Enterprise reported:
Fitch said the legislation was filed in response to an audit that didn’t result in criminal charges. …
“It just seems like what is happening in this particular bill is somebody did not like the results of the audit report by the state auditor,” Fitch said.
While Fitch’s argument against the anti-corruption bill is peculiar, the North Carolina NAACP’s caricature of the bill is bizarre. A statement posted by the group on its Facebook page claims that it is a “voter suppression” bill that would “strip black people of their vote and their voice” and that Democrats are being bullied into supporting it because they are “terrified to withstand the tide of voter suppression under a thinly veiled call to transparency and accountability.”
They called on Democrats to oppose the bill, a call that has so far been little heeded.
Here’s how this all got started. It revolves around the audit of activity in Rocky Mount by state Auditor Beth Wood’s office.
No, it’s not discrimination when we fight corruption. It’s called good governance.