Sen. Lee faces ethics complaint about law work

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Michael Lee speaks at a Power Breakfast event in Wilmington on Oct. 23, 2018. (Photo: Monique Robinson/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A former New Hanover County Republican Party Chair is one of two people who have filed an ethics complaint against Republican NC Sen. Michael Lee.

According to a copy of the complaint dated Oct. 25 and addressed to the NC State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement and the State Ethics Commission and sent to WWAY, former party chair William Shell and Terry Reilly, claim “Lee has clearly used his position as a state senator to further his own financial interests.”

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Shell and Reilly, who is not registered with a party, write that the issue is that Lee, an attorney, represents “private clients before local governmental boards and commissions which are beholden to the members of the General Assembly for funding and other items which they wish to accomplish, and indeed for their very existence.”

The complaint includes examples including Lee’s representation of Greensboro developer Roy Carroll on the $200 million “The Avenue” project on Military Cutoff Road. They say Lee’s involvement with Carroll began after the project ran into problems with the plan and had to pull the original petition for rezoning.

Click here to read the ethics complaint against Sen. Michael Lee

They also point to Lee’s representation of the State Street Companies in the redevelopment of the old Galleria shopping center on Wrightsville Avenue, which included a deannexation from Wrightsville Beach, which they claim included a threat of action by the General Assembly to force moving the property to Wilmington if the town did not agree. Another example they give alleges Lee worked a deal on behalf of Tom Fetzer, a prominent Republican.

“This is just a last-minute desperate attempt to distract voters from Harper Peterson’s horrible record as mayor that had him voted out after just two years, and what we are now seeing about his record with the court system and taxes,” Lee told WWAY via text this evening. “The filing of this complaint is in keeping with the false ads he is running on TV – just ridiculous.”

Peterson, a Democrat and former Wilmington mayor, is challenging Lee for his 9th District seat in the NC Senate. Libertarian Ethan Bickley is also on the ballot, but yesterday he announced he is dropping out of the race and endorsing Lee.

According to a news release, Lee will deliver a prepared statement on the allegations Friday at 1 p.m. at the New Hanover County Government Center.