Feb 8, 2023 - News

NC auditor kept driving state vehicle after misdemeanor

Photo illustration of Beth Wood with abstract pattern of gavels.

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

State Auditor Beth Wood was back behind the wheel of a state vehicle just days after being charged with a hit-and-run following an accident involving another government-issued car in December.

Driving the news: In fact, Wood put nearly nearly 2,000 miles on that second car between Dec. 12 and Jan. 31, according to vehicle logs from the Office of the State Auditor.

Catch up quick: Wood drove a state car onto the hood of another vehicle on Salisbury and Hargett Streets in downtown Raleigh the evening of Dec. 8, records show.

  • The accident occurred minutes after minutes after she left Democratic lobbyist and former state attorney general Rufus Edmisten's holiday party.

Why it matters: The newly uncovered documents, obtained by Axios through a public records request, show that even after state officials revoked Wood's state vehicle assignment, she continued to drive taxpayer-funded vehicles to and from her home, office and doctor appointments.

Details: Wood began checking out a state-owned Toyota Camry four days after the accident on Dec. 12 — the same day she was charged with a misdemeanor a misdemeanor Class 2 hit-and-run, leaving the scene and property damage. She also received an infraction for unsafe movement.

  • "I was shaken by the incident and, when I was unable to move my vehicle, I left the scene," Wood said in the statement issued after days of remaining silent on the matter. "That was a serious mistake and I regret my decision."
  • State officials temporarily revoked Wood's individual vehicle assignment after news of the charges against her broke six weeks after the accident.

Context: Regulations for the state's Motor Fleet Management division, which is under the Department of Administration, outline that a vehicle assignment can be recalled from an individual or an agency if abuse of the vehicle occurs, which includes "reckless disregard for the proper operation of the vehicle," or "if substantiated violations of motor vehicle laws are committed."

Wood's office, the Department of Administration and a spokesperson for Wood did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

What's next: Wood's next court date is March 23.

What we're watching: North Carolina's Republican Party has called for Wood, a Democrat, to resign, and a billboard in Youngsville also called for her resignation.

  • Wood has made no indication that she plans to resign, however, and has remained out of the public eye. She did not attend a Council of State meeting in person Monday, according to The News & Observer.

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