Transfer of Funds Normal, Morgan Says
State House Speaker Pro Tem Richard Morgan denied Thurs-day that any money has been transferred out of his campaign fund into a personal account.
On another subject, Morgan said he has no idea what he will do in the future.
A story in The News & Observer of Raleigh on Thursday reported that on Sept. 26 Morgan wrote himself a check for $356,000 from that fund. Three days later he was repaid $181,565 from the campaign account for personal loans that he made into his campaign fund.
"It happens all the time," Morgan said of the transfer. "The News & Observer story gives the impression that my campaign money is no longer in the campaign fund. Every dollar resides in the campaign."
Morgan said Thursday that The N&O did not check all reports included in his campaign finance file available on the state elections board Web site. The file, shown under the heading Special Report, contains a listing of check transfers.
It shows that on Oct. 30, Morgan loaned the campaign fund $533,429.
The transactions listed in Morgan's campaign finance report cover line item transfers within the campaign fund and were not made to his personal bank account, Morgan said. He said such transfers are common practice and are legal.
A new law limiting personal use of campaign funds went into effect Oct. 1. Morgan made the transfer within a week before that deadline. The law was passed by the 2006 session of the General Assembly.
Morgan said he is considerably more certain about the integrity of his campaign finance fund than he is about his own political aspirations.
"You know as much about my future campaign plans as I know," he said Thursday in a telephone interview.
Morgan, a Moore County Republican said he is aware that "rumors are flying with wild abandon" and he has heard "a lot of suggestions" about what he may do or may not do. However, Morgan said that his immediate plan is to continue to carry out his legislative duties and respond to constituents' needs until the end of the legislative year.
Morgan, who has served in the state House since 1991, was defeated in the May Republican primary election. Until his defeat, he was the Republicans' most influential member of the state House, where he had served in the past as co-speaker and chair of the Rules Committee.
After the primary, Morgan said he told his staff in Raleigh that he intends to work until "the last day of my term." He advised the staff to respond to all constituents' correspondence and requests and to get as much done as possible.
"We are not going to hold our heads down," he recalled telling the staff.
In the meantime, Morgan says he is keeping an active schedule at his office in the Legislative Building and goes to the office at least three days each week. The legislature has not been in session since July.
Morgan admitted that the loss at the polls in May has been difficult.
"I also learned that intellectually, you can get over something quickly, but emotionally, it takes quite a lot longer," he said.
Morgan said he is making no decisions until "things settle down," a reference to the general election and to the outcome of litigation against Art Pope, his longtime foe and a man whose influence in the May election is regarded as significant.
'Not Finished' With Pope
Questions about his campaign funds arose recently when Morgan issued a request for contributions to a legal fund to help with attorney fees connected with his battle against Pope. Morgan lost a petition filed with the State Board of Elections and is considering taking the issue into the state court system.
"I'm not finished with Art Pope," he said, adding his concern that extremists are trying to hijack his political party.
Pope, a millionaire businessman and former legislator, is a longtime political foe of Morgan. Morgan and his supporters have accused Pope of pouring money into the Republican Legislative Majority, an issue-advocacy group, which, in turn, donated money to the state GOP. The state Republican Party provided ample financial backing to Morgan's primary opponent, Joe Boylan.
Morgan charges that it is illegal for a corporation to donate funds to a political campaign and that the RLM acted illegally by campaigning for and against certain candidates. Pope, Boylan and the state GOP leadership deny these allegations, say the contributions were not illegal and that no corporate money was donated directly to the Boylan campaign.
Although Morgan lost his petition to the SBOE, he still has recourse to the state judiciary. He has 30 days in which to file a suit, but cannot take such action until the SBOE completes all its paper work, which is not likely to happen until after Tuesday's general election.
David Sinclair can be reached at 693-2462 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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