Updated 07/25/2012 09:28 PM
Indicted lawmaker LaRoque resigns from General Assembly
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Rep. Stephen LaRoque
RALEIGH -- Rep. Stephen LaRoque resigned from the General Assembly Wednesday, amid an indictment that he misused federal loan funds.
In a letter, LaRoque wrote he did "not want my continued presence in the General Assembly to be politicized or to distract from the important work that still needs to be done there."
“Is it that surprising? Not really considering what we're looking at. At this point, his primary concern is likely going to be these federal charges,” said NC Policy Watch Reporter Sarah Ovaska.
Ovaska with NC Policy Watch has been investigating LaRoque for more than a year. Her stories helped lead to last week's federal indictments that LaRoque stole money from a federal small-business loan program.
A federal grand jury levied eight counts against the Lenoir County Republican in connection with his leadership over two federally funded nonprofits.
The counts against LaRoque include four counts of theft concerning programs receiving federal funds and four counts of monetary transactions in criminally derived property, laundering money for his personal interests.
House Speaker Thom Tillis, who turned the case over to the legislative ethics committee for investigation, said, in a statement, that LaRoque "made the right decision to resign and focus
solely on the legal matters before him.
"This decision is in the best interests of his family, his constituents, and his state," Tillis wrote.
The North Carolina Democratic Party released this statement:
"It is a shame that it took a federal indictment that included the theft of millions of taxpayer dollars for Speaker Thom Tillis to call for Representative LaRoque to step down. Now that he has finally resigned, it is our hope that Thom Tillis will finally realize that he and his colleagues are accountable to the voters—not to their own special interests. It is time for Thom Tillis and his allies to stop playing by their own rules--no more midnight sessions, no more tax-payer funded bailouts for political allies, no more flat screen TV's and no more publicly-financed entourages."