Despite legislative resignations, ethics law may not apply
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RALEIGH -- In less than one week's time, two staffers in the state Speaker of the House's office have resigned.
That is 20 percent of his staff gone both for affairs with lobbyists. For his part, the speaker said the affairs were distractions, but do not appear to illegal.
“I have seen nothing,” Speaker Thom Tillis told reporters Tuesday, “absolutely nothing to suggest anything but an inappropriate relationship between two individuals.”
Tillis said he had heard rumors months before the exodus began, but believed his staffers when they said the rumors were untrue.
"You heard a lot of rumors about the leadership that came before us. You heard these rumors. So, I wasn't going to judge him but if that was indeed the case he would lead to his dismissal," said Tillis.
There is a State Government Ethics Act that covers many of the folks that work within the legislative building, including the legislative employees who are involved in this situation.
The act said: "A covered person or legislative employee shall not knowingly, directly or indirectly, ask accept, demand, exact, solicit, seek, receive, or agree to receive anything of value for the covered person or legislative employee, or for another person..."
There are still some questions for many if the relationships with the lobbyists broke any of the act, but the lobbyists employers aren't waiting to find out.
One lobbyist has had her license terminated for lack of anyone using her services, and the other has filed at least two resignations to the Secretary of State's office on Wednesday.
Lawmakers said this situation is not indicative of what happens day-to-day at the Legislative Building.
“I think we are all human beings,” said Rep. Dianne Parfitt, a Cumberland County Democrat. “And no matter what job your in you are susceptible to human foibles so I don't think it is any different here and its unfortunate. And we are all very sad about it and it is distracting from the work that we need to do.”
Tillis himself said the laws -- which do not currently discuss romantic relationships -- may need to be updated, but for now he believes he has taken the action that needs to be taken to resolve this situation.