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North Carolina Rep. Ty “Big Telecom’s BFF” Harrell Resigns Under Ethical Cloud

Phillip Dampier September 21, 2009 Community Networks, Editorial & Site News, Public Policy & Gov't 1 Comment


Rep. Ty Harrell - Big Telecom's BFF: Buh, Bye

Rep. Ty Harrell (D-Raleigh) submitted his resignation today after an ethics investigation raised questions about his campaign finances.  Harrell resigned to ‘spend more time with his family and to deal with divorce proceedings.’

Stop the Cap! readers will remember Harrell from this past spring, when he allowed Time Warner Cable to help draft anti-consumer, anti-municipal broadband legislation and introduced it as his own.  It seems Harrell has been representing his own interests over that of his constituents well beyond just a telecommunications bill our readers shamed him into walking away from this past spring.

“The people of District 41, and all citizens of North Carolina, deserve representatives who can make clearly-focused decisions on their behalf,” Harrell wrote in a letter to House Speaker Joe Hackney. “With the recent turbulence in my personal life and continued speculation about my campaign expenditures, I do not feel that I can provide the high standard of representation that my constituents expect and deserve.”

On this the people of Raleigh should wholeheartedly agree.  Harrell’s interests in serving some of his corporate friends, who have contributed generously to his campaign, obviously exceeded the interests of his constituents.  The News & Observer today reports:

Harrell’s campaign expense report for January through June of this year showed an unusual number of expenses for a year with no election. Many of the expenses were to restaurants at a time when Harrell had no source of income other than his nearly $14,000 legislative salary. In an earlier report, he listed paying $235 to a pricey children’s clothing store and $191 to Sharon Luggage, with both identified as a “committee meeting.” and the descriptions of the expenses often were listed as “donor recruitment,” “strategy meeting” or other explanations that the elections board found insufficient.

Harrell has been living outside his district for more than a month at a friend’s house, feeling unhappy in marriage. His wife, Melanie Dupon, filed for divorce in July, alleging an extramarital affair.

The affair was probably with big telecom.

Harrell wrote as part of his resignation letter:

“My parents always told me, and I believe, that public service is an honorable calling,” Harrell wrote. “I answered that call by serving in the General Assembly as an agent for positive change. But holding public office can put significant strains on a young family and I am living proof of that.”

One of the strains Harrell writes about could have been how to creatively hide the money in expense reports that he allegedly spent on himself.  As Stop the Cap! North Carolina issues coordinator Jay Ovittore reported back in May, Harrell accepted $2750 in campaign contributions from telecommunications companies, a sizable amount for a state legislator not running a committee.

The election board’s staff found so many alleged discrepancies, it asked for more than 200 pieces of additional information on Harrell’s filings, according to the News & Observer.

As we wrote back in May, Harrell’s response to our charge that his bill represented the direct opposite of his own constituents’ best interests was one of “surprise.”

Representative Harrell, we honestly cannot understand your surprise over the outrage and backlash that came after you handcrafted, on spec from Time Warner and its lobbying lawyers, an incredibly anti-consumer, anti-competitive, nightmare of a piece of legislation designed to destroy municipal broadband across the state of North Carolina.

Rep. Ty Harrell (D-NC), who normally considers himself a progressive Democrat, has so bumbled his way through this entire affair, he’s managed to end up on the same side as the ultra-big-corporate friendly Americans for Prosperity, which is now war-dialing its way through North Carolina with push polls and fear-monger phone messages.  If that doesn’t sound alarm bells that something isn’t right, what will?  He admits he didn’t realize North Carolina has been through this anti-consumer nonsense before.  In 2007, largely the same bill was bought and paid for by big telecom special interests, but failed to pass after elected officials realized it would antagonize their constituents into voting for anyone but them in the next election.  No kidding.

Stop the Cap! is not surprised Rep. Harrell will now be looking for a new day job.  Democrat or Republican, Stop the Cap! is watching our elected representatives like a hawk.  We will continue to call out the bad actors and expose their anti-consumer actions.  The people of North Carolina have one less bad representative to deal with, but unfortunately there are others who are also cashing the checks and prepared to abandon the people they are supposed to represent.  We’ll continue to name names and show how much they’ve taken to vote against your interests.

Two news videos appear below the jump….

Jay Ovittore is Stop the Cap!’s North Carolina issues coordinator.

[flv width=”576″ height=”324″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/WRAL Raleigh – Rep Harrell resigns 9-20-09.flv[/flv]

WRAL Raleigh leads the Sunday evening news with the announcement that Rep. Harrell resigned today (9/20/09)

[flv width=”400″ height=”304″]http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/WNCN Raleigh – Harrell Resigns 9-20-09.flv[/flv]

WNCN Raleigh explores the audit by the State Board of Elections related to a “high rate of expenses.” (9/20/09)

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waiting and watching
waiting and watching
14 years ago

Poor thing, going through a divorce. Maybe his ethical decisions to bend over backwards for someone other than who he was responsible for lead to such as his divorce, and people wanting him gone. He should have been looking out for the people of the state at his job, not the big business that has more money than brains; and should have been paying attention to his wife, not the whomever he found on the side. The man in the second video was right, we do need less of these types of people in both state and federal government who… Read more »

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