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In close quarters, House Democratic leaders try to isolate Wright

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RALEIGH (AP) -- Representative Thomas Wright and Speaker Joe Hackney sit about 15 feet apart on the House floor.

But Hackney is trying to make it feel like miles for the veteran New Hanover County legislator who's under investigation.

The State Board of Elections asked prosecutors last month to consider criminal charges against Wright for using up to 250-thousand dollars in campaign donations for personal use and for failing to disclose donations of a similar amount. A legislative ethics committee is also investigating.

Hackney has called on his fellow Democrat to resign, indicating Wright can't be effective anymore. The speaker has also tried to isolate Wright by keeping him off the final budget negotiating team.

Wright has not been charged with any crimes and has support from fellow black legislators.

He says he's going to continue to represent the people of his district and has -no- plans to step down.

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