DURHAM — A North Carolina prosecutor has asked investigators to look into concerns about legal work performed by one of the legislature’s top leaders, but House Speaker Tim Moore says he has never mixed that work with his lawmaking duties.
Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman asked the State Bureau of Investigation to look into Moore’s work for developer Neal Hunter’s pharmaceutical company. Previously, Moore’s legislation had rescued a Durham project involving Hunter. Freeman also asked the SBI to investigate Moore’s private legal work preceding legislation involving bail agents. The inquiry isn’t a criminal investigation, she said.
“Certainly, the allegations in both of these (cases), if they bear out to be true, seem to suggest a pattern of the use of public position for personal gain,” Freeman said.
Hunter co-founded KNOW Bio and agreed to pay Moore $40,000 for four months of legal work largely related to the treatment of startups in federal tax law. The Cleveland County Republican was House rules chairman and became House speaker in 2015. He disclosed details about the work in an interview Friday.
The newspaper reported last month on the contract. Former CEO Anne Whitaker said she learned about the contract shortly after her 2017 hire and later canceled it because she didn’t see the work, which appeared to involve lobbying federal officials, as a needed expense.
Freeman learned about the contract from the story and said a few days earlier, an anonymous letter arrived regarding Moore’s legal work for the North Carolina Bail Agents Association. The not-for-profit group earns fees by providing training for those in the bail business. The letter, later sent to the newspaper, alleged the association had paid $10,000 in a “legal retainer fee” to win his support for legislation that would prevent a for-profit competitor from offering the training.
Moore said Monday he welcomed further inquiries into the anonymous letter, which he called part of a “coordinated attack” and “fabricated narrative” meant to affect next month’s elections.
“My work as a private attorney and businessman has never conflicted with my public service in the General Assembly,” Moore said in a statement provided by his legislative spokesman. “I recuse myself from voting on legislation when appropriate and hold myself to the highest standards of integrity that the people of North Carolina deserve from elected leaders.”