State Senator Fletcher Hartsell (R - Cabarrus) has been at the forefront of the state takeover battle against Alcoa, sponsoring legislation, pressuring DENR and the EPA, writing letters to newspapers. He sponsored the failed Yadkin River Trust legislation and created the Uwharrie Regional Resources Commission behind closed doors in Raleigh. He set off a flurry of controversy, with opposition from none other than Bill Friday, by subpoenaing tapes from UNC-TV which had not yet been aired. Hartsell instigated an investigation against High Rock Lake Association President Larry Jones, allegations of which Jones was later exonerated, but not before having his reputation sullied in newspapers across the state. Now Hartsell himself is facing accusations on two fronts.
According to new campaign finance reports, Hartsell spent nearly $100,000 of his campaign's money in 2011 and 2010 paying off debts on at least 10 personal credit cards.
Kim Strach, deputy director for campaign finance at the state Board of Elections, said Thursday the disclosure reports raise enough questions that her office has opened an immediate inquiry. “At a minimum, the information that has been provided is not the information that is needed,” she said. “It is not complete.”
Some entries on his campaign reports, which he signed himself, appear to be for personal expenses unrelated to his campaign or to holding office and many other descriptions are vague. Hartsell admitted to the Raleigh News and Observer that he may have paid personal expenses from campaign funds, which is illegal, and that he did not have complete records.
On an unrelated matter, Hartsell's personal law firm is facing accusations of financial misconduct and negligence as the trustee of an elderly couple’s multi-million dollar estate in his hometown of Concord. "Lawyer David Bland, of Matthews, was assigned by the court to sort out the details of the multimillion dollar estate of Harold and Audree Mills. Bland says in court documents that the senator has engaged in a “continuing course of self dealing transactions” and allowed his younger brother, Thomas Hartsell, to “grossly overcharge” a trust that held their money. A longtime employee, David Piatt, who helped the Millses with daily tasks for years, says the Hartsells “set out to pilfer this estate.” "