Jan 23, 2023 - Politics

N.C. Auditor Beth Wood was leaving Christmas party before hit-and-run

Photo illustration of Beth Wood with abstract pattern of gavels.

Photo illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios. Photo: North Carolina State Auditor's Office

North Carolina State Auditor Beth Wood released a statement Monday, following reports last week of charges she's facing for a hit-and-run.

  • "I was shaken by the incident and, when I was unable to move my vehicle, I left the scene," Wood said. "That was a serious mistake and I regret my decision."

Why it matters: Wood's statement Monday comes after days of mounting criticism over her silence.

Catch up quick: Wood, a Democrat who has served as state auditor since 2009, wrecked her state-owned vehicle Dec. 8, by driving her car over the hood of a parked car near Salisbury and Hargett Streets in downtown Raleigh. She fled the scene.

  • Wood is charged with a Class 2 hit-and-run, leaving the scene and property damage. Wood also received an infraction for unsafe movement. She'll appear in court Thursday.

Between the lines: Wood said she was returning from an unspecified Christmas party. Rufus Edmisten, a Democratic lobbyist who previously served as secretary of state and attorney general, threw one the same evening of Wood's accident, according to two people who said they were invited.

  • Wood's wreck happened almost directly in front of Edmisten's law office.
  • Edmisten declined to comment in an email to Axios Monday, citing the ongoing case.

The details: At least three people called 911 in quick succession to alert police of the incident, saying a black Toyota Camry, which one caller described as "a state-owned vehicle," was on top of a parked white car.

  • "Two of the wheels are no longer on the ground," one caller said of the black Toyota. "The other two are on the ground, and the car is on, and nobody's in it."
  • It's unclear when or how Wood left the scene.

What they're saying: The NC Republican Party and a billboard located on US-1 in Youngsville have called for Wood's resignation.

  • Gov. Roy Cooper also issued a statement Monday saying the incident is "troubling," and that he's glad Wood addressed the issue publicly.
  • Labor commissioner Josh Dobson and state treasurer Dale Folwell, both Republicans, said in statements that Wood is a "committed," "dedicated and effective public servant," WRAL reported.
  • Insurance commissioner Mike Causey, also a Republican, called for more transparency on the incident, according to WRAL.

What's next: Wood will appear in court and enter a plea on the charges Thursday.

  • "It will be handled the same way any of those sorts of charges typically are," said Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, who is also pursuing charges against state Attorney General Josh Stein.
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