In a rare move, a leading Republican lawmaker resigned his committee chairmanship Wednesday, citing a litany of differences with House Speaker Thom Tillis and accusing him of a conflict of interest.
It's the second time in less than a month that a Republican lawmaker broke ranks to condemn Tillis' leadership as he considers a bid to challenge U.S. Sen.Kay Hagan in 2014.
Rep. Robert Brawley of Mooresville's decided to step down as a Finance Committee chairman in a letter that listed four reasons, including the speaker's apparent business relationship with Time Warner. "You slamming my office door shut, standing in front of me and state that you have a business relationship with Time Warner and wanting to know what the bill was about," Brawley wrote, not mentioning the specific legislation. "You and I both know the bill stifles the competition with MI Connections in Mooresville."
Brawley also asserts that the House's vote in last year to make the N.C. Bail Agents Association the only group allowed to certify bondsmen gave a monopoly to Rep. Justin Burr's family. (The bondsmen dispute was the subject of a 2012 article in the News & Observer.) Burr's father, Phil Burr, is the current president of the association. The junior Burr excused himself from the vote. A judge later issued an injunction blocking the law.
"I look forward to working with you and the Republican team for Republican goals and objectives, but I reserve the right to continue to represent my district and to fight for what I believe is American," Brawley wrote.
The other issues Brawley listed concerned toll roads and a local annexation effort. On the toll roads, Brawley said Tillis flip-flopped on the issue, first saying he opposed them and now "all indications in this chamber are that you are the champion for toll roads."
In a subsequent interview, Brawley made clear his distaste rests with the speaker. He said his letter doesn't list bigger problems with his leadership, problems he declined to elaborate.
Jordan Shaw, a Tillis spokesman, said Tillis would not comment on the letter. He said Brawley resigned by "mutual decision" and dismissed any connection to the criticism Rep. Larry Pittman leveled against the speaker in late April that questioned Tillis' tactics and commitment to conservative principles.
Brawley drew criticism earlier this year for sponsoring a bill to repeal the gift ban on lawmakers receiving gifts from lobbyists.