Chairman Denounces Charge of Racism

David Ingram, Charlotte Observer, March 4. 2008

An attempt by indicted Rep. Thomas Wright’s attorneys to label a House ethics committee as racist drew a strongly worded denouncement today from the committee’s chairman.

Rep. Rick Glazier, the chairman, called the attempt frivolous and groundless in a speech that left the committee and its audience in stunned silence. Glazier, a Fayetteville Democrat and widely respected legislator, spoke about his work as a civil-rights lawyer and about discrimination he has experienced because he is Jewish.

“I find equally abhorrent racism labels tossed off capriciously,” Glazier said. “Charges of racism, if proven, carry an enormously stigmatizing effect.”

He ruled against a motion by Wright’s attorneys that he step aside from the case. The attorneys had argued that Wright is being treated harshly because he is black. They compare his ethics case to that of another legislator, Rep. Pryor Gibson, who is white.

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Wright, a Wilmington Democrat, faces charges that he acted unethically in his handling of $350,000 in campaign, charitable and corporate money. A Wake County grand jury indicted him last year on charges of obstruction of justice and obtaining property by false pretenses. He has refused calls for his resignation.

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