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NC Senate inquiry into DOT letters

Today's News and Observer carried a front page story about letters written to two members of the General Assembly with Jim Trogdon's signature on them.

I became aware of this situation last Thursday when I heard the letter in question read on the Senate floor.  My first reaction was "Jim Trogdon did not write that letter".  The letter contradicted Jim's position on when money would be needed for two toll projects.  As it turned out, I was correct.  Jim Trogdon did not write the letter. His signature was applied electronically without his knowledge.  

So today Senate Rules Chair Tom Apodaco announced his committee's intent to conduct an inquiry into the letters and the role the Governor's office played.  Senator Apodaco made it very clear that he was not after Trogdon.  In fact, he praised General Trogdon for his integrity and honesty.  Tomorrow morning at 9:00 the Rules Committee will meet again and NCDOT has been asked to come and explain what happened on their end.  There is little doubt that Jim Trogdon will show up to represent his Department and staff.  He will answer every question honestly and directly.  He will not point fingers, but he will not lie to cover up for someone else.  Thursday morning the Governor's office has been asked to appear and tell their side of the story.  No doubt, the Republicans will be loaded for bear that day.  Bets around the Legislature are that no one from the Governor's office will show up.  General Assembly committees have the power to issue subpoenas and that will be the next step.  With the 2012 session drawing to a close it is difficult to say what may happen, but the Senate leadership is serious about this issue.

This is an unpleasant episode at a time when we would all prefer to be focused on other issues, but it is also an opportunity to witness something that has become increasingly rare in the world of politics and government - an honest man.  For those of us who have known and worked with Jim through the years, this is no surprise.  For people who do not know him as we do, it is a breath of fresh air.  Everywhere I've been today there is a buzz about Trogdon's courage and honesty.  I tried to share that with him a few minutes ago and he responded "This is a great example of why we should not have individual projects listed in statutes.  We should be focused on the whole program and the proper balance within the program".   He is not interested in accolades, just results.

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