State Politics

McCrory will remove elections board member Paul Foley

Gov. Pat McCrory on Wednesday said he will remove state Board of Elections board member Paul Foley because of conflict of interest concerns raised during the election agency’s investigation of video sweepstakes payments made to his law firm.

McCrory said he asked Foley to step down but he declined. McCrory appointed Foley and the four other members of the board in 2013.

“Therefore, Gov. McCrory will be taking the appropriate action by statute to remove him from the board,” the governor’s spokesman, Josh Ellis, said in a statement. “The governor did this because of serious issues involving his conduct as a board member.”

While Foley doesn’t serve at the pleasure of the governor, Ellis said there are steps that can be taken to remove a board member “when conduct warrants this action.”

Foley emailed a statement in response Wednesday evening: “I do not believe it is appropriate for the Governor to ask a member of an independent board with ongoing oversight authority over him to resign. I did nothing wrong and, therefore, there is no reason to resign.”

Foley is a member of the Kilpatrick Stockton law firm’s Winston-Salem office, where convicted video sweepstakes executive Chase Burns spent a substantial amount of money. Elections investigators discovered that connection in September, and Foley said he would recuse himself from all matters connected to that. However, he continued to press elections staff for updates about the case.

An internal investigation found he didn’t influence the outcome of the investigation, but that the State Bar or the state Ethics Commission might want to look at whether he had a conflict of interest. Foley didn’t attend Wednesday’s meeting, due to a business commitment, the board chairman said.

Foley, by speaker phone, read a brief statement at the meeting, saying he never intended to influence the investigation.

The Associated Press reported Tuesday that Foley also worked closely to eliminate a heavily Democratic voting site in Watauga County, while serving on the board.