RALEIGH – There has been a swirl of suspicion around N.C. House Speaker Tim Moore and his dealings for a while now. Legitimate questions have been raised about the connections between private business dealings and his powerful political position, and other rumors of corruption have resulted in state and federal law enforcement sniffing around Jones Street.
Now a few current and former state lawmakers have revealed the FBI came to them asking questions about Moore, citing an anonymous letter they received that painted an unfavorable picture of the Republican from Cleveland County.
“FBI agents reached out to at least two members of the state House in recent months, asking questions about an anonymous letter that accused House Speaker Tim Moore of chicanery.
Recently retired Rep. John Blust, R-Guilford, said a pair of agents visited his office. Rep. Jason Saine, R-Lincoln, said he got a phone call. Neither man could say exactly what the agents wanted, but they didn’t have any proof of wrongdoing to share.
“I hadn’t read the letter, seen the letter,” Saine said. “Kind of a short conversation.”
That letter is dated May 21, 2018, and it begins, “I am currently a sitting member of the North Carolina House of Representatives.”
It’s been floating around for months, and it makes a number of accusations. It was addressed to Josh Lawson, attorney for the State Board of Elections, and copied to three news organizations, including WRAL News.
It concluded by saying that “if you figure out who I am … I will talk with you or the press, ON THE RECORD.”
To date the press, and we assume the FBI, has not figured out who wrote the letter. Based on some identifying factors, WRAL narrowed the possibilities down to three lawmakers – Blust, Saine, and Rep. Linda Johnson.
The letter reportedly focuses on an issue involving the Moore and the bail bonds industry, legislation that gave one business the exclusive right to provide bail bondsman training in the state, and whether or not there was some cronyism involved.
Moore’s office has issued a, ‘Nothing to see here’-statement.
“This is a 3-month-old story about my fellow legislators cooperating with officials to show that there is nothing to the anonymous allegations,” he said. “The partisan election season is over, and it’s really time for us to focus on taking care of the state’s business.”
The partisan motivation to attack the Republican Speaker of the House is clear, but that alone is not enough to completely dismiss the multiple clouds that have been following him around. Beyond the bail bonds controversy, eyebrows have also been raised concerning Moore being paid tens of thousands of dollars by a real estate developer that benefited from legislation Moore sponsored in 2013. More recently, he has faced questions regarding a land deal he invested in, and whether or not he used his influence to navigate regulatory hurdles that made the property more valuable.
It could all be nothing, but when the FBI is knocking on people’s doors to ask questions about a powerful politician, it’s worth shining as much light as possible on the details.
The author of the letter may never come forward, but he/she should. If they are willing to talk to the press, and have credible evidence of corruption, the people deserve to know sooner rather than later.
Read more on the background of the accusations against the House Speaker from WRAL here.