Convicted ex-official drops bid for Wake post

Elections board was set to debate Democratic nominee

Staff WriterJuly 7, 2009 

— A former state official convicted in a criminal coverup has withdrawn his name from consideration to the board that oversees local elections.

Alexander Killens, 55, resigned amid scandal as commissioner of the state Division of Motor Vehicles in 1996. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of obstruction of justice after interfering with an SBI investigation into a DMV employee's misuse of state property.

Killens was one of three people nominated last month for two seats held by Democrats on the Wake County Board of Elections. The third seat on the three-member board, which is appointed by the state Board of Elections, is held by a Republican.

According to a letter signed by the Democratic Party executive director and sent to state elections officials Monday, Killens withdrew his name during a conversation with state Democratic Party chairman David Young.

Neither Killens nor Young could be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Word of Killens' decision came as Wake County commissioners prepared to debate a resolution opposing his potential appointment to the sensitive job of certifying local elections. The measure was dropped after board chairman Harold Webb, a Democrat, offered copies of the letter confirming Killens' withdrawal to Republican commissioners backing the resolution.

"He just decided to pull out," Webb said. "That's all I know."

Appointed by then-Gov. Jim Hunt in 1993, Killens' problems as DMV commissioner involved an employee, Algie Toomer.

Killens was charged with obstruction of justice after he told investigators from the State Bureau of Investigation an internal inquiry had cleared Toomer of wrongdoing. That was not true.

He received a 45-day suspended sentence and five years of unsupervised probation. As part of his plea deal, Killens was also banned from seeking election or holding a government position for five years.

Despite the conviction, Killens has stayed active in Democratic politics. He ran unsuccessfully for state House in 2002 and recently sought appointment to the unexpired term of Sen. Vernon Malone, who died in April.

michael.biesecker@newsobserver.com or 919-829-4698

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