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North Carolina investigators reviewing state treasurer's use of government vehicles

North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell walks through the Republican Governors Association conference, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.
Phelan M. Ebenhack
North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell walks through the Republican Governors Association conference, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022, in Orlando, Fla.

North Carolina law enforcement officials are investigating the potential improper use of state vehicles by North Carolina State Treasurer Dale Folwell, according to a local prosecutor and records.

State investigators launched a probe in March after a spot check conducted by the Department of Administration’s Motor Fleet Management division of some 2022 trips, WRAL-TV reported Wednesday.

At least three state vehicles operated by Folwell traveled to medical offices, a country club, fast-food offices, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville and Republican Party offices, the station reported, citing a search warrant application filed last week in Wake County.

Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman said she asked the State Bureau of Investigation to probe Folwell’s use of state vehicles.

“As with all cases involving public officials, it is important that the public be able to trust that these sorts of matters are appropriately scrutinized,” Freeman said in a written statement. "We are at the beginning of what is a standard review.”

Folwell, a Republican who has served as treasurer since 2017, has not been charged with any crimes. State vehicles are only supposed to be used for state business or approved commuting.

Folwell told WRAL-TV that he hadn’t seen search warrants, but that he believed he was compliant with state guidelines and that the trips would be considered approved use of a state vehicle. “But I’m not perfect,” he said.

In a separate statement released Wednesday night, Folwell said “we have provided pages of documentation throughout the course of this review. We look forward to continuing to cooperate" with Motor Fleet Management "to satisfactorily resolve this issue."

Folwell is not seeking reelection this fall. He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for governor earlier this year.

The investigation comes months after the resignation of State Auditor Beth Wood following a similar review that led her to plead guilty in Wake County court to two misdemeanors for misusing a state-issued vehicle for personal activities.

Wood, a Democrat, received unsupervised probation and paid restitution as part of her plea agreement last December. The investigation started after she crashed a state-owned car into a parked vehicle after a holiday party in December 2022.

Folwell, a certified public accountant, previously served in government as a local school board member, state House member and head of then-Gov. Pat McCrory's unemployment benefits agency.

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