Raleigh – A new complaint filed today against Sen. Michael Lee by the Former New Hanover County Republican party Chair alleges “influence peddling” from Sen. Lee, including using his public office for private gain, as reported by the Port City Daily. A second signer told the outlet that Sen. Lee “stepped over the line” by pushing a controversial land deal on behalf of a local developer instead of being concerned with the public interest.
In response to the new allegations raised against Sen. Lee, NCDP Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds released the follow statement:
“These deals stink to high heaven – enough for a former New Hanover County Republican party chair to raise issues. Senator Lee has used his public office for private gain to an extreme level, helping big monied developers instead of looking out for his constituents. Senator Lee should put the public interest before his own bottom line and stop pressuring local governments to help his special interest backers.”
Port City Daily: Former New Hanover Republican Party chair files ethics complaint against Michael Lee over development issues
By Benjamin Schachtman
November 1, 2018
A formal ethics complaint was filed against State Senator Michael Lee, alleging the use of “public office for private gain” in relation to Lee’s legal representation of a number of Wilmington-area developments. The complaint was filed just one week before Election Day, where Lee will face two challengers at the polls, Libertarian Ethan Bickley and Democrat Harper Peterson.
The complaint was filed by William R. Shell and Terry Reilly, both of whom spoke during public hearings for The Avenue development on Military Cutoff Road. Sent to the North Carolina State Ethics Commission, the complaint alleges, in short, that Lee uses his position as a state senator to implicitly pressure New Hanover County and Wilmington boards when he appears before them in his private role an attorney for developers. (You can read the complaint in its entirety at the end of this article.)
“There is nothing illegal about lawyers who are members of the General Assembly representing private clients,” the complaint reads. “However, the problem here is that Lee is representing those clients before local governmental boards and commissions which are dependent upon the North Carolina General Assembly for things they wish to have done and funding and frankly, for even their existence … the members of the governing boards of counties and cities cannot afford to cross a local senator.”
The complaint lists a number of recent examples of Lee’s appearances on behalf of developers, including The Avenue, the Wrightsville Avenue Galleria project, the Landing on Lewis Creek, the creation of Wilmington’s conservation districts that lead to a lawsuit, and other projects.