Republican leaders at the state legislature took aim Wednesday at what they said was a reluctance by Democrats to move three ethics bill stalled in a Senate committee.
Bills H944, H961 and H1136 were approved with bipartisan support by the state House in May 2009, but have since languished in a Senate judiciary committee chaired by Majority Leader Martin Nesbitt, a Democrat from Asheville.
The bills seek to require disclosure of campaign activity by state government appointees, prohibiting campaign donations from important state contractors and preventing executive branch employees from registering as lobbyists for six months after leaving state government.
With deliberations on the state budget now focused in the state House, Minority Leader Phil Berger called on the Senate to take up the ethics bills.
"The Senate is not really doing anything today," said Berger, a Republican from Eden. "It's a good time to take a stand."
The Republicans also called attention to three pending bills introduced by Sen. R.C. Soles Jr., the embattled Tabor City Democrat who is not seeking reelection after pleading guilty misdemeanor charges related to a shooting at his home.
S1341, which would change the age of pension eligibility for judicial branch employees to 62 instead of 65, was introduced by Soles at the behest of his good friend Rex Gore, the district attorney for Soles' home county.
Gore, a Democrat, lost his reelection bid in his party primary last month. He will be 62 when his term expires at the end of the year.
S1340 and S1408 seek to divide a judicial district in Brunswick, Bladen and Columbus counties, creating a new superior court judicial seat appointed by the governor.
Though there has been no public indication Gov. Bev Perdue would appoint Gore to the judicial seat, the timing of Soles' three bills with Gore's involuntary retirement has raised eyebrows.
Berger suggested Democratic leaders in the Senate either send the bills to a committee to die or that they be brought up for a quick vote so members have an opportunity to kill them.
"Those three bills really illustrate the politics of personal interest," Berger said. Maybe they (the Democrats) could send them to ways and means, where all the Republican bills go."