Thursday, March 20, 2008

NC Legislature boots out one of it's own


RALEIGH (AP) — The state House voted overwhelmingly Thursday to remove Rep. Thomas Wright from office, the first such expulsion of a lawmaker from North Carolina's General Assembly in 128 years.

The House voted 109-5 in favor of booting the Wilmington Democrat, who is accused of mishandling or hiding about $340,000 in loans and campaign and charitable contributions. At least 80 votes were needed to kick him out of office.

Wright was immediately escorted from the chamber by the House sergeant at arms. His attorney later promised to file a legal challenge to the House's action.

Wright, who faces a criminal trial later this month on similar charges, has denied wrongdoing and called the proceedings a rush to judgment by his peers. Wright asked his colleagues not to expel him, arguing that he couldn't adequately defend himself without revealing to prosecutors his criminal defense strategy.

"I am innocent of the criminal charges before me," Wright said. "However, I need an opportunity to prove that. This is less than the appropriate setting to do that."