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Senate letter investigation heads to State Ethics Commission

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TWC News: Senate letter investigation heads to State Ethics Commission
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RALEIGH -- Lawmakers said that more questions need to be asked about the so-called "letter-gate" inquiry in the state senate. A committee has voted to send a complaint to the state ethics commission.

The committee wants to ask them to look into how letters with false information and official signatures were sent to legislators.

“I think that is an accurate description here... attempted fraud,” said Senator Buck Newton.

State senators said that after two weeks of questioning, they think there was a deliberate act to send false information to the General Assembly.

“I think that there was an attempted hoax pulled on the, attempted to be pulled on the senate... and I think that the employees at DOT were pretty much used to try to pull that hoax.” said Newton.

In a party line vote, the senate-ruled committee voted to send a referral to the state ethics commission asking them to look into a few key points.

First, did gubernatorial staffer Pryor Gibson overstep his authority and ask DOT workers to act out of the norm when he asked for COO Jim Trogdon's signature to be placed on a letter.

And were the letters sent to the General Assembly intentionally misleading.

“Its the whole situation... we still want to get to the bottom of why a false letter was presented on the floor of the senate.” Senator Tom Appodaca said.

Some democrats who said that they were on board with this investigation when it began wanted to know how the false information made it to the senate floor. But said that they don't believe the accounts presented to lawmakers suggest intentional action.

“At this point, I almost have to believe it is sloppiness... people not paying attention to detail... more so than I think it is some nefarious reason,” said democrat, Eric Mansfield

But a majority of the committee disagreed and said that this issue should not be dropped.

“If you are trying to pull a fast one.. you need to be called on it... you need to be sanctioned for it... and this body should not tolerate it,” said Newton.

The funding issue that was discussed in the letters in question were included in the compromised budget that the governor is considering.

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