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House GOP Interested In Formal Investigation Of Marshall

Elaine Marshall
Jim R. Bounds
Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate Elaine Marshall speaks with reporters after a debate with Republican U.S. Sen. Richard Burr in Research Triangle Park, N.C., Thursday, Oct. 21, 2010.

House Republicans have opened the door for the chamber to investigate North Carolina Secretary of State Elaine Marshall based on a lawmaker's allegations she issued notary public commissions to people who live in the U.S. illegally.

A House committee voted along party lines Wednesday to allow the full body to consider a resolution to create a special panel for investigating Marshall, a Democrat first elected in 1996.

The probe request came from GOP Rep. Chris Millis, who months ago received records from Marshall's office that led him to believe more than 300 commissions were issued to people with no legal residency status. In March, Millis called on Marshall to resign. Marshall's office says commissions have been granted lawfully.

"There are hundreds and hundreds of unqualified aliens who have been illegally granted the public benefit of a notary commission," said Millis.

The resolution says the investigative panel could propose impeachment articles against Marshall.

Democrats in opposition say this is a political stunt that could tarnish the reputation of a well-respected official. Marshall has held state wide office for 20 years.

“These are criminal allegations against an elected, well-respected member of the council of state... and I just don’t think we should be going into it lightly," said Darren Jackson, a Democrat from Wake County.

On Wednesday, Marshall said she strongly opposes the House Rules Committee resolution and rejects Millis’ claim that any state or federal laws were broken by the department.

"The public should continue to have full confidence in the integrity of the more than 144,000 notaries public in North Carolina," Marshall said. "Every single non-citizen we have commissioned as a notary public has presented appropriate federally-issued work authorization documentation to qualify as a notary."

"I can only conclude that this is a political attack and nothing else,” she said.

The last elected official in North Carolina to be impeached was Governor William Holden, in 1870.

Jeff Tiberii covers politics for WUNC. Before that, he served as the station's Greensboro Bureau Chief.
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