Jun 29, 2023 - News

NC House Speaker Tim Moore's growing list of scandals

House Speaker Tim Moore, speaking to the press after the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case testing the independent state legislature theory, Moore v. Harper. Photo: Olivier Douliery/AFP

In the 10 days since news broke of a lawsuit filed against North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore, he has continued to preside over his chamber and take interviews with reporters as usual.

Driving the news: In the filing, Moore, the longest-serving House Speaker in state history, is accused of abusing his power, including to sleep with a married state employee. The news has dominated headlines, even as the legislature races to implement a spending package for the new fiscal year and continues advancing its biggest priorities.

Why it matters: Behind the scenes, the lawsuit has resurfaced numerous years-old accusations of Moore wielding his power to benefit himself and his allies in his 20-year tenure in the House.

  • News stories, audits and ethics complaints detailing his alleged misdeeds over the years, in which he has denied wrongdoing, have stuck to him about as well as a pancake sticks to a Teflon pan.
  • This time may be no different for Moore, who has long considered a run for U.S. Congress.

Between the lines: Republicans have largely declined to publicly criticize the speaker, who still has a final say over what bills pass his chamber and how much money members will get for their districts in the budget.

"It's not a good look any way you slice it, and this type of cavalier behavior inevitably catches up with you," one of the only Republicans to speak out, Andrew Dunn, who ran communications for Dan Forest's gubernatorial bid, wrote in a blog post this week.

Catch up quick: Within a year of Moore becoming the second-most powerful Republican in the legislature, the FBI in 2015 launched an inquiry into the speaker after an audit found his campaign failed to itemize thousands of campaign expenditures — which he ultimately amended — and Charlotte's WBTV reported Moore's campaign made rent payments to a company he owned.

  • He was also forced to answer questions about how his fiancée at the time, who has since died, was the only person considered for two state jobs, including one position created by the General Assembly, WRAL reported in 2018.
  • Also in 2018, an ethics complaint accused the speaker of slowing a state agency from penalizing his company. The penalties would've impacted a private land deal Moore was involved in. The complaint was ultimately dismissed.
  • And just last year, emails uncovered by The Assembly and WHQR found that Moore wanted an old friend to be named chancellor at UNC-Wilmington. When a board member resisted his pick, Moore had the member removed.

Before he was elected speaker, Moore also faced numerous controversies.

  • He reportedly secured tens of thousands of state dollars to renovate a building to house his law office.
  • In 2012 and 2013, Moore worked to pass legislation overriding the city of Durham in favor of a developer represented by Moore's co-counsel and friend, the News & Observer reported in 2020.
  • One of the developers later hired Moore as an attorney for a pharmaceutical company, prompting a prosecutor to ask the State Board of Investigation to look into Moore's work there.
  • Moore also received $10,000 from the NC Bail Association to persuade the state insurance department to shut down a for-profit competitor to the association — a case that was also referred to the SBI — and represented a nonprofit that faced fire in a state audit over questionable spending, the N&O also reported.

Reality check: Moore, who is not married, has called the latest lawsuit "baseless," but admitted that he had an off-and-on relationship with Jamie Lassiter, who serves as executive director of the North Carolina Conference of Clerks of Superior Court. Lassiter's estranged husband filed the suit.

  • Moore wasted no time in explaining his relationship with Lassiter and dismissed claims that he abused his power in any way.
  • He told a group of reporters last week that he plans to respond to the allegations and look at filing a countersuit.

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